Petrological modeling of basaltic rocks from Venus: A case for the presence of silicic rocks


  • J. Gregory Shellnutt

    Corresponding author
    1. National Taiwan Normal University, Department of Earth Sciences, Taipei, Taiwan
    • Corresponding author: J. G. Shellnutt, National Taiwan Normal University, Department of Earth Sciences, 88 Tingzhou Rd., Section 4, Taipei 11677, Taiwan. (

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[1] The presence of highly evolved igneous rocks on Venus is a controversial issue. The formations of highland terranes and pancake domes are the two principal tectonic and volcanic features which argue in favor of the presence of silicic igneous rocks; however, the lack of water on Venus casts doubt on whether or not granites and rhyolites can form. Data returned to Earth from the Venera 13 and 14 landers show that the surface of Venus is composed of basaltic rocks similar in composition to those found on Earth. Here it is shown that anhydrous and hydrous fractional crystallization modeling using the Venera 13 and 14 data as starting materials can produce compositions similar to terrestrial phonolites and rhyolites. It is suggested that at shallow crustal levels (i.e., ≤ 0.1 GPa), mafic magmas can differentiate into silicic magmas resembling phonolites or rhyolites which may or may not erupt. Furthermore, the hydrous equilibrium partial melting models can produce rocks similar to terrestrial andesites and rhyolites, whereas anhydrous models suggest that there may be a uniquely Venusian type of silicic rock. The silicic rocks, if present, could act as “continental nucleation” sites and/or their presence may facilitate preferential sites of shearing and deformation of the Venusian crust.