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Is there uniformitarian or catastrophic tectonics on Venus?The distribution and modification of craters on Venus favors a near global, volcanic resurfacing event about 500 Myrs ago. Such an event indicates that the tectonic evolution of Venus was catastrophic rather than uniformitarian. The creation of a global, single-plate lithosphere on Venus about 500 Myrs ago can explain a variety of tectonic features on Venus that are not consistent with the thin lithosphere required by a uniformitarian hypothesis. A lithosphere on Venus that has thickened for 500 Myrs has a present thickness of about 300 km whereas steady-state heat loss from Venus requires a mean lithospheric thickness near 40 km. A thick lithosphere on Venus can support the high plateaus (elevations of 3-4 km) and mountain belts (up to 9 km) using the same isostatic compensation concepts applicable to the earth. If a thick lithosphere is thinned by a mantle plume, elevation is caused by thermal isostasy. The elevation due to the thinning of a 300 km thick lithosphere is about 3 km. Thus the domal elevation of Beta Regio can be explained by the same mechanism responsible for the elevation of the Hawaiian Swell. While the broad highland plateaus on Venus may be associated with thermal isostasy, the mountain belts in Ishtar Terra clearly cannot be. The high topography of Freyja Montes is almost certainly associated with underthrusting and the likely compensation mechanism is Airy isostasy associated with a thickened crust. With a density contrast delta, of 500 kg m(exp -3) an elevation of 9 km requires a crustal thickening of about 70 km. With a thick lithosphere there is no difficulty in supporting such a thick crust.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Turcotte, Donald L. (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY, 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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