Methane in Martian rocks

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The uncertainty of science: Scientists have measured significant quantities of methane released from six meteorites believed to have originally come from Mars.

This result could provide a non-biological source for the methane detected by Curiosity in Gale Crater.


  • I don’t know why you’re leading this piece with the “uncertainty of science” line… It is well known among geologists that there are non-biologic modes for the formation of methane. Serpentinization of olivine is a well-known process that produces methane.

  • My reference to uncertainty has to do with the cause of the methane on Mars. Up until now, every report that I have read about the methane detected on Mars, which appears to fluctuate depending on season as well as time of day, has said that though they don’t know what causes it, biology is the best explanation. No report ever mentioned that methane could be produced from non-biological sources.

    Not being a geologist, I was, until today, unaware of these non-biological sources. Today’s report to me signaled a greater uncertainty about the cause of methane on Mars.

    Of course, scientists probably knew all this beforehand and never mentioned it, a fact that I find very annoying. They thus created the impression that life was the most likely cause of the methane.

  • Max

    Life is the cause of Congress granting a larger budget to find out. Rocks being the source of methane inspires no one to open their pocketbooks.
    The largest source of Hydrolyzed carbon (methane) is our sun. You can see the blue in the aurora borealis two days after a solar flare blast in our direction. ( Green for ammonia, red for boron, etc.)
    One flare can add millions of tons into our atmosphere to burn brilliantly at night as it converts to carbon dioxide and water which causes our oceans to rise between five and 8 inches per century.
    Mars is too warm for methane to freeze to its surface. Not so for the outer planets. We can see the surface of the moon’s covered in ice of methane and ammonia.
    I propose a hypothesis that periodically our system passes through clouds of interstellar gases. These gases would not only cause the Ice Age on earth as the atmosphere is thined down but it would also block the sunlight that keeps Mars warm and the gases would freeze to its surface like Europa. After we pass through the cloud, it would take centuries to burn off the frozen gases. all that is left, and is rapidly decreasing in size, is the Martian polar ice cap.
    I have to admit, life on Mars is much more romantic and fills the mind with fantasies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *