Tectonics and Evolution of Venus

Science  22 May 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4497, pp. 879-887
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4497.879


The global tectonics of Venus differs significantly from that of Earth, most markedly in that the surface is covered predominately by gently rolling terrain; there apparently are no features like ocean rises; the gravity is positively correlated with topography at all wavelengths; and the few highlands are estimated to be supported or compensated at a depth of approximately 100 kilometers. The surface of Venus appears to be covered mainly by an ancient crust, the high surface temperature making subduction difficult. It seems likely that well over 1 billion years ago water was destabilized at the surface and, soon after, plate tectonics ceased. The highlands appear to be actively supported, presumably as manifestations of long-enduring hot spots.