Venus: Halide Cloud Condensation and Volatile Element Inventories

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Science  11 Jun 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4551, pp. 1223-1225
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4551.1223


Several recently suggested Venus cloud condensates, including aluminum chloride and halides, oxides, and sulfides of arsenic and antimony, are assessed for their thermodynamic and geochemical plausibility. Aluminum chloride can confidently be ruled out, and condensation of arsenic sulfides on the surface will cause arsenic compounds to be too rare to produce the observed clouds. Antimony may be sufficiently volatile, but the expected molecular form is gaseous antimony sulfide, not the chloride. Arsenic and antimony compounds in the atmosphere will be regulated at very low levels by sulfide precipitation, irrespective of the planetary inventory of arsenic and antimony. Thus arguments for a volatile-deficient origin for Venus based on depletion of water and mercury (relative to the earth) cannot be tested by a search for atmospheric arsenic or antimony.