Resurfacing History and Volcanic Activity of Venus

Robert R. Herrick, Evan T. Bjonnes, Lynn M. Carter, Taras Gerya, Richard C. Ghail, Cédric Gillmann, Martha Gilmore, Scott Hensley, Mikhail A. Ivanov, Noam R. Izenberg, Nils T. Mueller, Joseph G. O’Rourke, Tobias Rolf, Suzanne E. Smrekar, Matthew B. Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Photogeologic principles can be used to suggest possible sequences of events that result in the present planetary surface. The most common method of evaluating the absolute age of a planetary surface remotely is to count the number of impact craters that have occurred after the surface formed, with the assumption that the craters occur in a spatially random fashion over time. Using additional assumptions, craters that have been partially modified by later geologic activity can be used to assess the time frames for an interpreted sequence of events. The total number of craters on Venus is low and the spatial distribution taken by itself is nearly indistinguishable from random. The overall implication is that the Venusian surface is much closer to Earth in its youthfulness than the other, smaller inner solar system bodies. There are differing interpretations of the extent to which volcanism and tectonics have modified the craters and of the regional and global sequences of geologic events. Consequently, a spectrum of global resurfacing views has emerged. These range from a planet that has evolved to have limited current volcanism and tectonics concentrated in a few zones to a planet with Earth-like levels of activity occurring everywhere at similar rates but in different ways. Analyses of the geologic record have provided observations that are challenging to reconcile with either of the endmember views. The interpretation of a global evolution with time in the nature of geologic activity relies on assumptions that have been challenged, but there are other observations of areally extensive short-lived features such as canali that are challenging to reconcile with a view of different regions evolving independently. Future data, especially high-resolution imaging and topography, can provide the details to resolve some of the issues. These different global-evolution viewpoints must tie to assessments of present-day volcanic and tectonic activity levels that can be made with the data from upcoming missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Venus
  • Venus geology
  • Venus resurfacing history
  • Venus volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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