Fluid outflows from Venus impact craters: Analysis from Magellan data


  • Paul D. Asimow,

  • John A. Wood


Many impact craters on Venus have unusual outflow features originating in or under the continuous ejecta blankets and continuing downhill into the surrounding terrain. These features clearly resulted from flow of low-viscosity fluids, but the identity of those fluids is not clear. In particular, it should not be assumed a priori that the fluid is an impact melt. A number of candidate processes by which impact events might generate the observed features are considered, and predictions are made concerning the rheological character of flows produced by each mechanism. A sample of outflows was analyzed using Magellan images and a model of unconstrained Bingham plastic flow on inclined planes, leading to estimates of viscosity and yield strength for the flow materials. It is argued that at least two different mechanisms have produced outflows on Venus: an erosive, channel-forming process and a depositional process. The erosive fluid is probably an impact melt, but the depositional fluid may consist of fluidized solid debris, vaporized material, and/or melt.