Venus Tectonics: Initial Analysis from Magellan

Science  12 Apr 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5003, pp. 297-312
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5003.297


Radar imaging and altimetry data from the Magellan mission have revealed a diversity of deformational features at a variety of spatial scales on the Venus surface. The plains record a superposition of different episodes of deformation and volcanism; strain is both areally distributed and concentrated into zones of extension and shortening. The common coherence of strain patterns over hundreds of kilometers implies that many features in the plains reflect a crustal response to mantle dynamic processes. Ridge belts and mountain belts represent successive degrees of lithospheric shortening and crustal thickening; the mountain belts also show widespread evidence for extension and collapse both during and following crustal compression. Venus displays two geometrical patterns of concentrated lithospheric extension: quasi-circular coronae and broad rises with linear rift zones; both are sites of significant volcanism. No long, large-offset strike-slip faults have been observed, although limited local horizontal shear is accommodated across many zones of crustal shortening. In general, tectonic features on Venus are unlike those in Earth's oceanic regions in that strain typically is distributed across broad zones that are one to a few hundred kilometers wide, and separated by stronger and less deformed blocks hundreds of kilometers in width, as in actively deforming continental regions on Earth.