Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2019.113432]
1University of Arkansas, Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, Fayetteville, AR 72701, United States
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, United States
The source of the unusually high radar reflectivity signal found on the highlands of Venus is hypothesized to be caused by a mineral with a high dielectric constant. We propose that this source is a combination of tellurium, sulfur, and bismuth. All three elements are commonly outgassed in terrestrial eruption plumes and thus are likely to be found on Venus. To test our hypothesis, we used a Venus simulation chamber and studied the stability of various tellurium, bismuth, and sulfur mixtures at Venus temperatures and pressures and in atmospheres of CO2, 100 ppm SO2 in CO2, or 100 ppm COS in CO2. When mixed together bismuth, tellurium, and sulfur phases preferentially formed tetradymite (Bi2Te2S). The remaining minerals that formed in each experiment strongly depended on the initial mixture. For instance the Bi2S3/Bi2Te3 mixture experiments resulted in the original minerals as well as BiTe at hotter temperatures, meanwhile the Bi/Te/S mixture produced Bi2S3 and occasionally Bi2Te3, Bi(S,Te), and Bi4(S,Te)3 depending on the temperature/pressure. There is evidence that COS, but not SO2, affected the stability of some minerals. Due to the presence of these elements in volcanic gases we propose that they can be present in the highlands and can, at least in part, account for the high radar reflectivity signal on the highlands.