Venus: Interpreting the spatial distribution of volcanically modified craters

Joseph G. O'Rourke, Aaron S. Wolf, Bethany L. Ehlmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


To understand the impact cratering record on Venus, we investigate two distinct resurfacing styles: localized, thin flows and large shield volcanoes. We statistically analyze the size-frequency distribution of volcanically modified craters and, using Monte Carlo simulations, their spatial distribution. Lava flows partially fill most craters, darkening their floors in radar images. We find that a model featuring localized, thin flows occurring throughout geologic time predicts their observed distribution. Individual flows may be morphologically indistinguishable, but, combined, they cover large provinces. Recent mantle plumes may drive a small amount of hot spot magmatism that produces the observed clusters of large shield volcanoes and obviously embayed craters. Ultimately, our analysis demonstrates that two styles of volcanism are needed to explain the observed properties of impact craters and that catastrophic resurfacing is not required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8252-8260
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Venus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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