Detection of reduced carbon in a basalt analogue for martian nakhlite: a signpost to habitat on Mars

John Parnell*, Sean McMahon, Nigel J F Blamey, Ian B Hutchinson, Liam V Harris, Richard Ingley, Howell G M Edwards, Edward Lynch, Martin Feely

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The Nakhla meteorite represents basaltic rock from the martian upper crust, with reduced carbon indicative of the ingress of carbonaceous fluids. Study of a terrestrial analogue basalt with reduced carbon from the Ordovician of Northern Ireland shows that remote analysis could detect the carbon using Raman spectroscopy. Analysis of gases released by crushing detects methane-rich fluids in the basalt and especially in cross-cutting carbon-bearing veinlets. The results suggest that automated analysis on Mars could detect the reduced carbon, which may be derived from magmatic and/or meteoritic infall sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-131
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Astrobiology
Issue number2
Early online date25 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

C. W. Taylor and J. Still are thanked for skilled technical support. J. Parnell, H.G.M. Edwards, I. Hutchinson and R. Ingley acknowledge the support of the UKSA and the
STFC Research Council in the UK ExoMars programme. L. V. Harris and S. McMahon acknowledge STFC studentship funding.


  • basalt
  • nakhlite
  • Mars
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • carbon
  • raman spectrometer
  • sampling methane
  • SNC meteorite
  • fluids
  • earth
  • serpentinization
  • identification
  • spectroscopy
  • astrobiology
  • inclusions


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