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A tectonic resurfacing model for VenusTwo remarkable aspects of the population of impact craters on Venus are as follows: that craters at all sizes are indistinguishable from a random population; and that the vast majority of craters have not been significantly modified by tectonic strain or by volcanic flows external to the crater rim, despite evidence from Magellan images that volcanic and tectonic features are widespread on Venus. One interpretation of these observations is that most of the surface dates from the end of a catastrophic global resurfacing event that ceased about 500 My ago, and that the small fraction of craters volcanically embayed or modified by deformation indicates that volcanic and tectonic activity subsequent to that time has been at much lower levels. An alternative model, in which resurfacing occurs episodically in patches a few hundred kilometers in extent and there is a wider spectrum of surface ages, also appears to be consistent with the characteristics of impact craters on Venus. A number of potential mechanisms for catastrophic resurfacing of Venus have been proposed ranging from geologically sudden convective destabilization of the global lithosphere to strongly time-dependent heat flux and melt generation in the underlying mantle. In most of these geophysical models, resurfacing occurs implicitly or explicitly by volcanism. We explore here the hypothesis that, at least in the geologically recent history of Venus, the primary resurfacing mechanism has been tectonic deformation rather than volcanism. We show how such a hypothesis provides at least as good an explanation of a wide range of observations as do volcanic resurfacing models. Finally, we explore the implications of the tectonic resurfacing hypothesis for the controversy over the recent resurfacing history of the planet.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Solomon, Sean C. (Carnegie Institution of Washington Washington, DC, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19940015909Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on the Martian Northern Plains: Sedimentological, Periglacial, and Paleoclimatic Evolution19940016163Analytic PrimaryTwenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z