Hydrous silicates and water on Venus

Mikhail Yu Zolotov, Bruce Fegley, Katharina Lodders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We used thermochemical equilibrium calculations to predict stabilities of pure rock-forming hydrous silicates on Venus' surface as a function of elevation, atmospheric H2O and SO2concentrations, and oxygen fugacity (fO2). About 50 different hydrous silicates were included in our calculations. We find that many of these are unstable on Venus's surface because of the low atmospheric H2O content of 30-45 parts per million by volume (ppmv) and the high surface temperatures (660 K on Maxwell Montes to 740 K in the plains). Hydrous Fe2+-bearing silicates are unstable due to oxidation to magnetite and/or hematite at the fO2of the near-surface atmosphere. Ca-bearing hydrous silicates are unstable because of sulfatization to anhydrite. Some Fe-free micas (e.g., eastonite, eastonite-phlogopite micas), and some alkali amphiboles might be stable on Venus' surface, especially in the lower temperature highlands. We discuss hydrous mineral formation in the interior and on the surface of Venus. We review the literature on mica and amphibole thermal decomposition and find that dehydration of phlogopitic micas and fibrous amphiboles produces (metastable) dehydroxylated anhydrides that decompose to more stable minerals at temperatures hundreds of degrees higher than the onset of dehydroxylation. These observations raise the possibility that anhydrides formed from hydrous silicates, which may have been present during a wetter period in Venus' history, may persist somewhere on Venus' present surface. We discuss experiments that could be used on future spacecraft missions to detect hydroxyl in rocks and hydrous silicates on Venus. Finally, we review estimates of the amount of water and OH (hydroxyl) in the Earth's mantle. Based on this review, we suggest that even if no hydrous silicates are stable on Venus, significant amounts of water are plausibly present in surface rocks as OH in nominally anhydrous minerals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-494
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrous silicates and water on Venus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this