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Early habitability and crustal decarbonation of a stagnant-lid Venus

Höning, Dennis; Baumeister, Philipp; Grenfell, John Lee; Tosi, Nicola; Way, Michael J.

Little is known about the early evolution of Venus and a potential habitable period during the first 1 billion years. In particular, it remains unclear whether or not plate tectonics and an active carbonate-silicate cycle were present. In the presence of liquid water but without plate tectonics, weathering would have been limited to freshly produced basaltic crust, with an early carbon cycle restricted to the crust and atmosphere. With the evaporation of surface water, weathering would cease. With ongoing volcanism, carbonate sediments would be buried and sink downwards. Thereby, carbonates would heat up until they become unstable and the crust would become depleted in carbonates. With urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0001 supply to the atmosphere the surface temperature rises further, the depth below which decarbonation occurs decreases, causing the release of even more urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0002. We assess the habitable period of an early stagnant-lid Venus by employing a coupled interior-atmosphere evolution model accounting for urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0003 degassing, weathering, carbonate burial, and crustal decarbonation. We find that if initial surface conditions allow for liquid water, weathering can keep the planet habitable for up to 900 Myr, followed by evaporation of water and rapid crustal carbonate depletion. For the atmospheric urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0004 of stagnant-lid exoplanets, we predict a bimodal distribution, depending on whether or not these planets experienced a runaway greenhouse in their history. Planets with high atmospheric urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0005 could be associated with crustal carbonate depletion as a consequence of a runaway greenhouse, whereas planets with low atmospheric urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21738:jgre21738-math-0006 would indicate active silicate weathering and thereby a habitable climate.
Published in: JGR / Planets, 10.1029/2021JE006895, Wiley