Venus Volcanism: Initial Analysis from Magellan Data

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Apr 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5003, pp. 276-288
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5003.276


Magellan images confirm that volcanism is widespread and has been fimdamentally important in the formation and evolution of the crust of Venus. High-resolution imaging data reveal evidence for intrusion (dike formation and cryptodomes) and extrusion (a wide range of lava flows). Also observed are thousands of small shield volcanoes, larger edifices up to several hundred kilometers in diameter, massive outpourings of lavas, and local pyroclastic deposits. Although most features are consistent with basaltic compositions, a number of large pancake-like domes are morphologically similar to rhyolite-dacite domes on Earth. Flows and sinuous channels with lengths of many hundreds of kilometers suggest that extremely high effusion rates or very fluid magmas (perhaps komatiites) may be present. Volcanism is evident in various tectonic settings (coronae, linear extensional and compressional zones, mountain belts, upland rises, highland plateaus, and tesserae). Volcanic resurfacing rates appear to be low (less than 2 Km3/yr) but the significance of dike formation and intrusions, and the mode of crustal formation and loss remain to be established.