Aeolian features on Venus: Preliminary Magellan results
Article first published online: 21 SEP 2012
Copyright 1992 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991–2012)
Volume 97, Issue E8, pages 13319–13345, 25 August 1992
How to Cite
1992), Aeolian features on Venus: Preliminary Magellan results, J. Geophys. Res., 97(E8), 13319–13345, doi:10.1029/92JE00980., et al. (
- Issue published online: 21 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 21 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 28 APR 1992
- Manuscript Received: 27 SEP 1991
Magellan synthetic aperture radar data reveal numerous surface features that are attributed to aeolian, or wind processes. Wind streaks are the most common aeolian feature. They consist of radar backscatter patterns that are high, low, or mixed in relation to the surface on which they occur. A data base of more than 3400 wind streaks shows that low backscatter linear forms (long, narrow streaks) are the most common and that most streaks occur between 17°S to 30°S and 5°N to 53°N on smooth plains. Moreover, most streaks are associated with deposits from certain impact craters and some tectonically deformed terrains. We infer that both of these geological settings provide fine particulate material that can be entrained by the low-velocity winds on Venus. Turbulence and wind patterns generated by the topographic features with which many streaks are associated can account for differences in particle distributions and in the patterns of the wind streaks. Thus, some high backscatter streaks are considered to be zones that are swept free of sedimentary particles to expose rough bedrock; other high backscatter streaks may be lag deposits of dense materials from which low-density grains have been removed (dense materials such as ilmenite or pyrite have dielectric properties that would produce high backscatter patterns). Wind streaks generally occur on slopes < 2° and tend to be oriented toward the equator, consistent with the Hadley model of atmospheric circulation. In addition to wind streaks, other aeolian features on Venus include yardangs(?) and dune fields. The Aglaonice dune field, centered at 25°S, 340°E, covers ∼1290 km2 and is located in an ejecta flow channel from the Aglaonice impact crater. The Meshkenet dune field, located at 67°N, 90°E, covers ∼17,120 km2 in a valley between Ishtar Terra and Meshkenet Tessera. Wind streaks associated with both dune fields suggest that the dunes are of transverse forms in which the dune crests are perpendicular to the prevailing winds. Dunes on Venus signal the presence of sand-size (∼60 to 2,000 μm) grains. The possible yardangs are found at 9°N, 60.5°E, about 300 km southeast of the crater Mead. Although most aeolian features are concentrated in smooth plains near the equator, the occurrence of wind streaks is widespread, and some have been found at all latitudes and elevations. They demonstrate that aeolian processes operate widely on Venus. The intensity of wind erosion and deposits, however, varies with locality and is dependent on the wind regime and supply of particles.