Features on Venus generated by plate boundary processes


  • Dan McKenzie,

  • Peter G. Ford,

  • Catherine Johnson,

  • Barry Parsons,

  • David Sandwell,

  • Stephen Saunders,

  • Sean C. Solomon


Various observations suggest that there are processes on Venus that produce features similar to those associated with plate boundaries on Earth. Synthetic aperture radar images of Venus, taken with a radar whose wavelength is 12.6 cm, are compared with GLORIA images of active plate boundaries, obtained with a sound source whose wavelength is 23 cm. Features similar to transform faults and to abyssal hills on slow and fast spreading ridges can be recognized within the Artemis region of Venus but are not clearly visible elsewhere. The composition of the basalts measured by the Venera 13 and 14 and the Vega 2 spacecraft corresponds to that expected from adiabatic decompression, like that which occurs beneath spreading ridges on Earth. Structures that resemble trenches are widespread on Venus and show the same curvature and asymmetry as they do on Earth. These observations suggest that the same simple geophysical models that have been so successfully used to understand the tectonics of Earth can also be applied to Venus.