Surface weathering on Venus: Constraints from kinetic, spectroscopic, and geochemical data

1,2M. Darby Dyar,3Jörn Helbert,4Reid F.Cooper,1Elizabeth C.Sklute,3Alessandro Maturilli,3Nils T.Mueller,3David Kappel,5Suzanne E.Smrekar
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114139]
1Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
2Department of Astronomy, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075, USA
3German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute for Planetary Research, Rutherfordstr 2, Berlin 12489, Germany
4Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912, USA
5Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Copyright Elsevier

On Venus, understanding of surface-atmosphere interactions resulting from chemical weathering is both critically important for constraining atmospheric chemistry and relative ages of surface features and multifaceted, requiring integration of diverse perspectives and disciplines of study. This paper evaluates the issue of surface alteration on Venus using multiple lines of evidence. Surface chemistry from Venera and Vega landers is inconsistent with significant breakdown from atmospheric interactions, with <2.0 wt% S or less observed. Consideration of kinetics and breakdown of basalt under Venus conditions indicates diffusion of Ca > Fe > Mg toward the oxidizing Venus atmosphere, favoring creation of anhydrite and carbonate-rich surfaces on basalts with minor addition of hematite. When related to Venus-analog experiments, the kinetic calculations suggest a maximum coating of ~30 μm over 500,000 years. These changes would result in an overall volume increase in the outermost surface materials, which in turn decreases surface rock FeO contents. Those variations can be detected from orbit because emissivity is correlated with total FeO, and the predicted magnitudes are consistent with Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) observations. Models of anhydrite and hematite coatings on basalt mixtures suggest that changes in emissivity (ε) spectra due to chemical weathering can result in ca. <0.08 shifts in total emissivity. Such gradations are small compared to the first-order effect of bulk composition on emissivity, which can cause up to ~0.80 emissivity shifts. For all these reasons, there is at present no evidence to suggest that emissivity spectra should show impenetrable coatings of either hematite (ε = 0.8) or anhydrite (ε = 0.1) are present on Venus. Orbital measurements of surface emissivity on a global scale could therefore produce not only a map of rock type and surface composition based on transition metal contents (largely FeO) (Helbert et al., 2020) but also provide local scale assessments of fresh vs. mature lava flows on the surface.

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