Channels and valleys on Venus: Preliminary analysis of Magellan data


  • V. R. Baker,

  • G. Komatsu,

  • T. J. Parker,

  • V. C. Gulick,

  • J. S. Kargel,

  • J. S. Lewis


A preliminary survey of Magellan imagery reveals more than 200 newly discovered relic channel and valley landform complexes. For purposes of discussion the channels can be classed as simple, complex, and compound. Integrated valleys also occur. Simple channels include (1) sinuous rules that closely resemble their lunar counterparts and (2) a newly recognized long sinuous form of high width-to-depth ratio and remarkably constant width. Herein designated canali, the most spectacular of these channels is 6800 km long. One of the compound channels, an outflow complex in Lada Terra, extends over 1200 km and is up to 30 km wide. Streamlined hills and spill relationships at a cross-axial ridge are similar to features in flood channels. Venusian channels have a global distribution with most of the large canali-type channels developed on volcanic plains. Alternative hypotheses for the channel-forming processes include genesis by the following erosive fluids: ultramafic silicate melts, sulfur, and carbonate lavas. Each of these causative agents has profound implications for Venusian planetology. The remote possibility of an aqueous origin, indicated by apparent regime behavior of the active channeling process, cannot be excluded with absolute certainty.