Venus: Chemical Weathering of Igneous Rocks and Buffering of Atmospheric Composition

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Science  09 Apr 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4542, pp. 181-183
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4542.181


Data from the Pioneer Venus radar mapper, combined with measurements of wind velocity and atmospheric composition, suggest that surface erosion on Venus varies with altitude. Calcium- and magnesium-rich weathering products are produced at high altitudes by gas-solid reactions with igneous minerals, then removed into the hotter lowlands by surface winds. These fine-grained weathering products may then rereact with the lower atmosphere and buffer the composition of the observed gases carbon dioxide, water vapor, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen fluoride in some regions of the surface. This process is a plausible mechanism for the establishment in the lowlands of a calcium-rich mineral assemblage, which had previously been found necessary for the buffering of these species.