Lucy Kissick

Lucy Kissick


I work with Dr Nick Tosca using chemical experiments to simulate the ground-surface interface of Mars. More than three and a half billion years ago, water on Mars was stable as lakes and rivers, but how the atmosphere was substantial enough to support this is a long-standing mystery. If a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere existed, vast carbonates — rocks that incorporate CO2 into their mineral structure — would be expected across the surface, but these have not been found.

Over the next three years I’ll be simulating water-rich Martian environments to recreate such Martian carbonates in the lab — specifically the iron carbonate siderite. In doing so, I can then understand how (or if) such minerals would have formed, and what these formation conditions imply for the state of Mars’ erstwhile atmosphere.

Summer 2017 update: Currently I’m synthesising my own ‘Mars rock’ in Bernie Wood’s Experimental Petrology lab, which is the iron oxide fayalite. This will form my Mars proxy during experiments, and and I look forward to beginning.

Summer 2018 update: I am writing my first paper on the results of my experiments thus far. Interestingly, my research has yielded light on the formation of siderite on Mars — or, more critically, its lack thereof. More to come soon.

Summer 2019 update: With over eighteen experiments completed, and a good understanding of the kinetics behind siderite formation, I am now progressing to understand the formation of additional carbonates on Mars — magnesium (magnesite), manganese (rhodochrosite), calcium (calcite). 

Kissick, Lucy E., and Patrice E. Carbonneau. “The case against vast glaciation in Valles Marineris, Mars.” Icarus 321 (2019): 803-823. (link)


Kissick, L. E., and N. J. Tosca. “Carbonate Precipitation Kinetics in Anoxic Water-Rock Systems: Implications for the Martian” Missing Carbonates”.” Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Vol. 50. 2019.


Kissick, L. E., and P. E. Carbonneau. “Order Out of Chaos Terrain: The Case Against Vast Glaciation in Valles Marineris, Mars.” Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Vol. 50. 2019.