Antarctic Ice Reveals Traces of Mineral from Mars

Researchers stumbled upon jarosite in Antarctica while analyzing deep ice cores in an attempt to understand ice age cycles. The mineral is found on the surface of Mars.

In a study reported in the “Nature Communications” journal, the researchers stated that this finding was of great value as it could possibly help confirm theories that suggest that Mars has had water before, a few billion years ago. Currently though, almost all water on the planet is in the form of ice while a tiny portion of it exists as vapor in the atmosphere.

The researchers explain that this is because on earth, jarosite is a rare mineral formed when iron-bearing minerals are oxidized by acidic low temperatures in a setting with limited water. In layman’s terms, jarosite is a sulfate mineral formed in deposits of ore through iron sulfide oxidation. Researchers state that the mineral may also be formed as a zinc refining byproduct.

The scientists believe that their jarosite discovery supports a theory that the planet Mars may have been blanketed by an ice cover billions of years ago and that this ice blanket had dust blowing into it. This, they suggest, may have led to jarosite forming in ice pockets.

The group of researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca, led by Giovanni Baccolo in Antarctica, found the yellow-brown mineral using electron microscopy and x-ray absorption testing, in samples discovered in depths of below 1000 meters.

The jarosite the researchers found was clinging to residual particles that were rich in silica. The particles were found in the Talos Dome ice core and were regarded as weathering products involving acidic atmospheric aerosols and Aeolian dust.

The paper states that re-crystallization with depth and the progressive rise of ice metamorphism supports the concentration and relocation of dust as well as the forming of acidic brines in remote environments. This allows mineral neo-formation and chemical reactions to occur.

The paper goes on to note that this is the pioneer described diagenetic mechanism found to have occurred deep in the Antarctic ice of a glacier. Additionally, it backs the ice-weathering model for the formation of jarosite on planet Mars.

However, the researchers still need to present a valid explanation that would explain why Antarctica holds tiny amounts of jarosite while on planet Mars, jarosite is usually found in huge blocks. This is despite the fact that their findings support the model.

Meanwhile, Josemaria Resources Corp. (TSX: JOSE) (OTCQB: JOSMF) is excited to be moving things along towards the extraction of copper and gold-rich ores at its property in Argentina. The operations will be able to supply 152,000 tons of ore daily to a processing plant.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Josemaria Resources Inc. (TSX: JOSE) (OTC: JOSMF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/JOSMF

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