Widespread abiotic methane in chromitites Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/2847-1203-9478-7415-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2018


  • Recurring discoveries of abiotic methane in gas seeps and springs in ophiolites and peridotite massifs worldwide raised the question of where, in which rocks, methane was generated. Answers will impact the theories on life origin related to serpentinization of ultramafic rocks, and the origin of methane on rocky planets. Here we document, through molecular and isotopic analyses of gas liberated by rock crushing, that among the several mafic and ultramafic rocks composing classic ophiolites in Greece, i.e., serpentinite, peridotite, chromitite, gabbro, rodingite and basalt, only chromitites, characterized by high concentrations of chromium and ruthenium, host considerable amounts of 13C-enriched methane, hydrogen and heavier hydrocarbons with inverse isotopic trend, which is typical of abiotic gas origin. Raman analyses are consistent with methane being occluded in widespread microfractures and porous serpentine- or chlorite-filled veins. Chromium and ruthenium may be key metal catalysts for methane production via Sabatier reaction. Chromitites may represent source rocks of abiotic methane on Earth and, potentially, on Mars.


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