It remains contentious whether the meteoritic material delivered to the terrestrial planets after the end of core formation was rich or poor in water and other volatiles. As Venus’s atmosphere has probably experienced less volatile recycling over its history than Earth’s, it may be possible to constrain the volatile delivery to the primitive Venusian atmosphere from the planet’s present-day atmospheric composition. Here we investigate the long-term evolution of Venus using self-consistent numerical simulations of global thermochemical mantle convection coupled with both an atmospheric evolution model and a late accretion N-body delivery model. We found that atmospheric escape is only able to remove a limited amount of water over the history of the planet, and that the late accretion of wet material exceeds this sink and would result in a present-day atmosphere that is too rich in volatiles. A preferentially dry composition of the late accretion impactors is most consistent with measurements of atmospheric H2O, CO2 and N2. Hence, we suggest that the late accreted material delivered to Venus was mostly dry enstatite chondrite, consistent with isotopic data for Earth, with less than 2.5% (by mass) wet carbonaceous chondrites. In this scenario, the majority of Venus’s and Earth’s water would have been delivered during the main accretion phase.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Nature+
Get immediate online access to the entire Nature family of 50+ journals
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the findings reported in this article are available as follows: code outputs of N-body simulations (impactors and collisions parameters) are available from figshare, with the identifier https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11829621. Data generated for the models displayed in the figures (equivalent pressure evolutions) are available from figshare, with the identifier https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11829621. Datasets generated during the current study as the present-day Venus atmosphere composition for the full complement of models are available in Supplementary Information.
The convection code StagYY is the property of P.J.T. and Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich. It is available on request from P.J.T. (email@example.com). The N-body model MERCURY, used for the LA scenarios, is available at https://github.com/4xxi/mercury.
Lammer, H. et al. Origin and evolution of the atmospheres of early Venus, Earth and Mars. Astron. Astrophys. Rev. 26, 2 (2018).
Lammer, H. et al. What makes a planet habitable? Astron. Astrophys. Rev. 17, 181–249 (2009).
Raymond, S. N. & Izidoro, A. Origin of water in the inner Solar System: planetesimals scattered inward during Jupiter and Saturn’s rapid gas accretion. Icarus 297, 134–148 (2017).
O'Brien, D. P., Izidoro, A., Jacobson, S. A., Raymond, S. N. & Rubie, D. C. The delivery of water during terrestrial planet formation. Space Sci. Rev. 214, 47 (2018).
Morbidelli, A. & Wood, B. J. in The Early Earth: Accretion and Differentiation (eds Badro, J. & Walter, M. J.) 71–82 (Geophysical Monograph Series Vol. 212, American Geophysical Union, 2015).
Rubie, D. C. et al. Highly siderophile elements were stripped from Earth’s mantle by iron sulfide segregation. Science 353, 1141–1144 (2016).
Day, J. M., Pearson, D. G. & Taylor, L. A. Highly siderophile element constraints on accretion and differentiation of the Earth–Moon system. Science 315, 217–219 (2007).
Albarède, F. Volatile accretion history of the terrestrial planets and dynamic implications. Nature 461, 1227–1233 (2009).
Fischer-Gödde, M. & Kleine, T. Ruthenium isotopic evidence for an inner Solar System origin of the late veneer. Nature 541, 525–527 (2017).
Dauphas, N. The isotopic nature of the Earth’s accreting material through time. Nature 541, 521–524 (2017).
Raymond, S. N., Schlichting, H. E., Hersant, F. & Selsis, F. Dynamical and collisional constraints on a stochastic late veneer on the terrestrial planets. Icarus 226, 671–681 (2013).
Odert, P. et al. Escape and fractionation of volatiles and noble gases from Mars-sized planetary embryos and growing protoplanets. Icarus 307, 327–346 (2018).
Peslier, A. H., Schönbächler, M., Busemann, H. & Karato, S. I. Water in the Earth’s interior: distribution and origin. Space Sci. Rev. 212, 743–810 (2017).
Way, M. J. et al. Was Venus the first habitable world of our solar system? Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 8376–8383 (2016).
Lichtenegger, H. I. M. et al. Solar XUV and ENA‐driven water loss from early Venus’ steam atmosphere. J. Geophys. Res. 121, 4718–4732 (2016).
Rasool, S. I. & de Bergh, C. The runaway greenhouse effect and the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere of Venus. Nature 226, 1037–1039 (1970).
Salvador, A. et al. The relative influence of H2O and CO2 on the primitive surface conditions and evolution of rocky planets. J. Geophys. Res. 122, 1458–1486 (2017).
Hamano, K., Abe, Y. & Genda, H. Emergence of two types of terrestrial planet on solidification of magma ocean. Nature 497, 607–610 (2013).
Solomatov, V. S. Initiation of subduction by small-scale convection. J. Geophys. Res. 109, B01412 (2004).
Driscoll, P. & Bercovici, D. Divergent evolution of Earth and Venus: influence of degassing, tectonics, and magnetic fields. Icarus 226, 1447–1464 (2013).
Gillmann, C., Golabek, G. J. & Tackley, P. J. Effect of a single large impact on the coupled atmosphere–interior evolution of Venus. Icarus 268, 295–312 (2016).
Elkins-Tanton, L. T. Magma oceans in the inner solar system. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 40, 113–139 (2012).
Monteux, J. et al. Mechanical adjustment after impacts during planetary growth. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L24201 (2007).
Shuvalov, V. Atmospheric erosion induced by oblique impacts. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 44, 1095–1105 (2009).
Brasser, R., Mojzsis, S. J., Werner, S. C., Matsumura, S. & Ida, S. Late veneer and late accretion to the terrestrial planets. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 455, 85–93 (2016).
Jacobson, S. A. et al. Highly siderophile elements in Earth’s mantle as a clock for the Moon-forming impact. Nature 508, 84–87 (2014).
Pepin, R. O. On the origin and early evolution of terrestrial planet atmospheres and meteoritic volatiles. Icarus 92, 2–79 (1991).
Muenow, D. W. & Wilson, L. High-temperature mass spectrometric degassing of enstatite chondrites: implications for pyroclastic volcanism on the aubrite parent body. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 56, 4267–4280 (1992).
Marty, B. The origins and concentrations of water, carbon, nitrogen and noble gases on Earth. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 313, 56–66 (2012).
Pearson, V. K. et al. Carbon and nitrogen in carbonaceous chondrites: elemental abundances and stable isotopic compositions. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 41, 1899–1918 (2006).
Sakuraba, H., Kurokawa, H. & Genda, H. Impact degassing and atmospheric erosion on Venus, Earth, and Mars during the late accretion. Icarus 317, 48–58 (2019).
Schaefer, L., Wordsworth, R. D., Berta-Thompson, Z. & Sasselov, D. Predictions of the atmospheric composition of GJ 1132b. Astrophys. J. 829, 63 (2016).
Zahnle, K. J. & Kasting, J. F. Mass fractionation during transonic escape and implications for loss of water from Mars and Venus. Icarus 68, 462–480 (1986).
Kasting, J. F. & Pollack, J. B. Loss of water from Venus. I. Hydrodynamic escape of hydrogen. Icarus 53, 479–508 (1983).
Filiberto, J., Trang, D., Treiman, A. H. & Gilmore, M. S. Present-day volcanism on Venus as evidenced from weathering rates of olivine. Sci. Adv. 6, eaax7445 (2020).
Johnson, B. & Goldblatt, C. The nitrogen budget of Earth. Earth-Sci. Rev. 148, 150–173 (2015).
Lécuyer, C., Simon, L. & Guyot, F. Comparison of carbon, nitrogen and water budgets on Venus and the Earth. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 181, 33–40 (2000).
Fegley. B. Jr in Planets, Asteroids, Comets, and the Solar System 2nd edn (eds Holland, H. D. & Turekian, K. K.) 127–148 (Treatise on Geochemistry, Vol. 2, Elsevier, 2014).
Marcq, E., Mills, F. P., Parkinson, C. D. & Vandaele, A. C. Composition and chemistry of the neutral atmosphere of Venus. Space Sci. Rev. 214, 10 (2018).
Grinspoon, D. H. Implications of the high D/H ratio for the sources of water in Venus’ atmosphere. Nature 363, 428–431 (1993).
Kasting, J. F., Pollack, J. B. & Ackerman, T. P. Response of Earth’s atmosphere to increases in solar flux and implications for loss of water from Venus. Icarus 57, 335–355 (1984).
Zahnle, K. J. in Protostars and Planets III (eds Levy, E. H. & Lunine, J. I.) 1305–1338 (Univ. Arizona Press, 1993).
Wordsworth, R. D. Atmospheric nitrogen evolution on Earth and Venus. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 447, 103–111 (2016).
Melosh, H. J. & Vickery, A. M. Impact erosion of the primordial atmosphere of Mars. Nature 338, 487–489 (1989).
Griffith, C. A. & Zahnle, K. Influx of cometary volatiles to planetary moons: the atmospheres of 1000 possible Titans. J. Geophys. Res. Planet. 100, 16907–16922 (1995).
Kulikov, Y. N. et al. Atmospheric and water loss from early Venus. Planet. Space Sci. 54, 1425–1444 (2006).
Gillmann, C., Chassefière, E. & Lognonné, P. A consistent picture of early hydrodynamic escape of Venus atmosphere explaining present Ne and Ar isotopic ratios and low oxygen atmospheric content. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 286, 503–513 (2009).
Lichtenberg, T. et al. A water budget dichotomy of rocky protoplanets from 26Al-heating. Nat. Astron. 2, 307–313 (2019).
Rubie, D. C. et al. Accretion and differentiation of the terrestrial planets with implications for the compositions of early-formed Solar System bodies and accretion of water. Icarus 248, 89–108 (2015).
Schönbächler, M., Carlson, R. W., Horan, M. F., Mock, T. D. & Hauri, E. H. Heterogeneous accretion and the moderately volatile element budget of Earth. Science 328, 884–887 (2010).
Crameri, F. Geodynamic diagnostics, scientific visualisation and StagLab 3.0. Geosci. Model Dev. 11, 2541–2562 (2018).
Tackley, P. J. Modelling compressible mantle convection with large viscosity contrasts in a three-dimensional spherical shell using the yin-yang grid. Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 171, 7–18 (2008).
Armann, M. & Tackley, P. J. Simulating the thermochemical magmatic and tectonic evolution of Venus’s mantle and lithosphere: two-dimensional models. J. Geophys. Res. 117, E12003 (2012).
Gillmann, C. & Tackley, P. J. Atmosphere/mantle coupling and feedback on Venus. J. Geophys. Res. 119, 1189–1217 (2014).
Lammer, H. et al. Loss of hydrogen and oxygen from the upper atmosphere of Venus. Planet. Space Sci. 54, 1445–1456 (2006).
Ribas, I., Guinan, E. F., Güdel, M. & Audard, M. Evolution of the solar activity over time and effects on planetary atmospheres. I. High-energy irradiances (1–1700 Å). Astrophys. J. 622, 680–694 (2005).
Saxena, P., Killen, R. M., Airapetian, V., Petro, N. E. & Mandell, A. The Sun was likely not a fast rotator: using lunar moderate volatile depletion and solar analogue activity from Kepler data as constraints. In AGU Fall Meeting 2018 (session conveners Meyer, H. M. et al.) Abstract P23D-3479 (AGU, 2018).
Gough, D. O. Solar interior structure and luminosity variations. Solar Phys. 74, 21–34 (1981).
Ribas, I. et al. Evolution of the solar activity over time and effects on planetary atmospheres. II. κ1 Ceti, an analog of the Sun when life arose on Earth. Astrophys. J. 714, 384–395 (2010).
Hunten, D., Pepin, R. & Walker, J. Mass fractionation in hydrodynamic escape (of gases from planetary atmospheres). Icarus 69, 532–549 (1987).
Chassefière, E. Hydrodynamic escape of oxygen from primitive atmospheres: applications to the cases of Venus and Mars. Icarus 124, 537–552 (1996).
Chassefière, E. Hydrodynamic escape of hydrogen from a hot water-rich atmosphere: the case of Venus. J. Geophys. Res. 101, 26039–26056 (1996).
Chassefière, E. Loss of water on the young Venus: the effect of a strong primitive solar wind. Icarus 126, 229–232 (1997).
Lammer, H. et al. Atmospheric escape and evolution of terrestrial planets and satellites. Space Sci. Rev. 139, 399–436 (2008).
Lammer, H. et al. Pathways to Earth-like atmospheres. Orig. Life Evol. Biospheres 41, 503–522 (2011).
Fox, J. L. & Bakalian, F. M. Photochemical escape of atomic carbon from Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 28785–28795 (2001).
Chassefière, E. & Leblanc, F. Mars atmospheric escape and evolution; interaction with the solar wind. Planet. Space Sci. 52, 1039–1058 (2004).
Lundin, R. & Barabash, S. Evolution of the Martian atmosphere and hydrosphere: solar wind erosion studied by ASPERA-3 on Mars Express. Planet. Space Sci. 52, 1059–1071 (2004).
Spreiter, J. R. & Stahara, S. S. Solar wind flow past Venus: theory and comparisons. J. Geophys. Res. 98, 17251–17262 (1980).
Johnstone, C. P. et al. The evolution of stellar rotation and the hydrogen atmospheres of habitable-zone terrestrial planets. Astrophys. J. Lett. 815, L12 (2015).
Johnstone, C. P., Güdel, M., Brott, I. & Lüftinger, T. Stellar winds on the main-sequence. II. The evolution of rotation and winds. Astron. Astrophys. 577, A28 (2015).
O’Rourke, J. G., Gillmann, C. & Tackley, P. Prospects for an ancient dynamo and modern crustal remanent magnetism on Venus. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 502, 46–56 (2018).
Jacobson, S. A., Rubie, D. C., Hernlund, J., Morbidelli, A. & Nakajima, M. Formation, stratification, and mixing of the cores of Earth and Venus. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 474, 375–386 (2017).
Gunell, H. et al. Why an intrinsic magnetic field does not protect a planet against atmospheric escape. Astron. Astrophys. 614, L3 (2018).
Pieters, C. M. et al. The color of the surface of Venus. Science 234, 1379–1383 (1986).
Masset, F. & Snellgrove, M. Reversing type II migration: resonance trapping of a lighter giant protoplanet. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 320, 55–59 (2001).
Morbidelli, A. & Crida, A. The dynamics of Jupiter and Saturn in the gaseous protoplanetary disk. Icarus 191, 158–171 (2007).
Pierens, A., Raymond, S. N., Nesvorny, D. & Morbidelli, A. Outward migration of Jupiter and Saturn in 3:2 or 2:1 resonance in radiative disks: implications for the Grand Tack and Nice models. Astrophys. J. 795, L11 (2014).
Raymond, S. N., O'Brien, D. P., Morbidelli, A. & Kaib, N. A. Building the terrestrial planets: constrained accretion in the inner Solar System. Icarus 203, 644–662 (2009).
Walsh, K. J., Morbidelli, A., Raymond, S. N., O’Brien, D. P. & Mandell, A. M. A low mass for Mars from Jupiter’s early gas-driven migration. Nature 475, 206 (2011).
Bottke, W. F. et al. Stochastic late accretion to Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Science 330, 1527–1530 (2010).
Walker, R. J. Highly siderophile elements in the Earth, Moon and Mars: update and implications for planetary accretion and differentiation. Chem. Erde 69, 101–125 (2009).
Morbidelli, A. et al. The timeline of the lunar bombardment: revisited. Icarus 305, 262–276 (2018).
Touboul, M., Kleine, T., Bourdon, B., Palme, H. & Wieler, R. Late formation and prolonged differentiation of the Moon inferred from W isotopes in lunar metals. Nature 450, 1206–1209 (2007).
Kleine, T. et al. Hf–W chronology of the accretion and early evolution of asteroids and terrestrial planets. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 5150–5188 (2009).
Grady, M. M. & Wright, I. P. Elemental and isotopic abundances of carbon and nitrogen in meteorites. Space Sci. Rev. 106, 231–248 (2003).
Schaefer, L. & Fegley, B. Jr Outgassing of ordinary chondritic material and some of its implications for the chemistry of asteroids, planets, and satellites. Icarus 186, 462–483 (2007).
Schaefer, L. & Fegley, B. Jr Redox states of initial atmospheres outgassed on rocky planets and planetesimals. Astrophys. J. 843, 120 (2017).
Brasser, R., Mojzsis, S. J., Matsumura, S. & Ida, S. The cool and distant formation of Mars. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 468, 85–93 (2017).
Vickery, A. M. & Melosh, H. J. in Global Catastrophes in Earth History (eds Sharpton, V. L. & Ward, P. D.) 289–300 (GSA Special Papers Vol. 247, Geological Society of America, 1990).
Shuvalov, V. Atmospheric erosion induced by oblique impacts. In 41st Lunar Planetary Science Conference Abstract 1191 (Lunar and Planetary Institute, 2010).
Shuvalov, V., Kührt, E., de Niem, D. & Wünnemann, K. Impact induced erosion of hot and dense atmospheres. Planet. Space Sci. 98, 120–127 (2014).
Genda, H. & Abe, Y. Survival of a proto-atmosphere through the stage of giant impacts: the mechanical aspects. Icarus 164, 149–162 (2003).
Svetsov, V. V. & Shuvalov, V. V. Silicate impact-vapor condensate on the Moon: theoretical estimates versus geochemical data. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 173, 50–63 (2016).
Pham, L. B. S., Karatekin, Ö. & Dehant, V. Effects of impacts on the atmospheric evolution: comparison between Mars, Earth, and Venus. Planet. Space Sci. 59, 1087–1092 (2011).
Pham, L. B. S. & Karatekin, Ö. Scenarios of atmospheric mass evolution on Mars influenced by asteroid and comet impacts since the late Noachian. Planet. Space Sci. 125, 1–11 (2016).
Abramov, O. & Mojzsis, S. J. Microbial habitability of the Hadean earth during the late heavy bombardment. Nature 459, 419–422 (2009).
Ruedas, T. & Breuer, D. Dynamical effects of multiple impacts: impacts on a Mars-like planet. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 287, 76–92 (2019).
We thank F. Crameri for providing the perceptually uniform colour map used in Fig. 451. We thank D. Rubie for his comments. We also thank R. Brasser and K. Zahnle. C.G., V. Dehant and V. Debaille were supported by BELSPO PlanetTOPERS IUAP programme and ET-HoME Excellence of Science programme. V. Debaille thanks the FRS-FNRS and ERC StG ISoSyC FP7/336718. M.S. acknowledges the National Center for Competence in Research ‘PlanetS’ supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). V. Dehant was financially supported by the Belgian PRODEX program managed by the European Space Agency in collaboration with the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Primary Handling Editor: Stefan Lachowycz.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Time evolution of a, CO2 and b, N2 abundances in the Venus atmosphere for three different LA compositions, labelled as CC material percentage of the total LA mass delivery. MAX parameters and LA scenario D starting at 100 Myr after CAI formation are used.
Time evolution of H2O in the Venus atmosphere for MED conditions assuming different LA compositions, labelled as CC material percentage of the total LA mass delivery. LA scenario D starting at 100 Myr after CAI formation is used.
Time evolution of H2O in the Venus atmosphere for MIN conditions assuming different LA compositions, labelled as CC material percentage of the total LA mass delivery. LA scenario D starting at 100 Myr after CAI formation is used.
Volcanic and impact sources for a, H20 and b, CO2. All shown cases employ MAX parameters and LA scenario D starting at 100 Myr after CAIs.
List of parameters and values.
MAX, MED and MIN specific parameter sets.
About this article
Cite this article
Gillmann, C., Golabek, G.J., Raymond, S.N. et al. Dry late accretion inferred from Venus’s coupled atmosphere and internal evolution. Nat. Geosci. 13, 265–269 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0561-x
Nature Geoscience (2020)