Signatures of Lithospheric Flexure and Elevated Heat Flow in Stereo Topography at Coronae on Venus

Joseph G. O'Rourke, Suzanne E. Smrekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Signatures of lithospheric flexure were previously identified at a dozen or more large coronae on Venus. Thin plate models fit to topographic profiles return elastic parameters, allowing derivation of mechanical thickness and surface heat flows given an assumed yield strength envelope. However, the low resolution of altimetry data from the NASA Magellan mission has hindered studying the vast majority of coronae, particularly those less than a few hundred kilometers in diameter. Here we search for flexural signatures around 99 coronae over ∼20% of the surface in Magellan altimetry data and stereo-derived topography that was recently assembled from synthetic aperture radar images. We derive elastic thicknesses of ∼2 to 30 km (mostly ∼5 to 15 km) with Cartesian and axisymmetric models at 19 coronae. We discuss the implications of low values that were also noted in earlier gravity studies. Most mechanical thicknesses are estimated as <19 km, corresponding to thermal gradients >24 K km−1. Implied surface heat flows >95 mW m−2—twice the global average in many thermal evolution models—imply that coronae are major contributors to the total heat budget or Venus is cooling faster than expected. Binomial statistics show that “Type 2” coronae with incomplete fracture annuli are significantly less likely to host flexural signatures than “Type 1” coronae with largely complete annuli. Stress calculations predict extensional faulting where nearly all profiles intersect concentric fractures. We failed to identify systematic variations in flexural parameters based on type, geologic setting, or morphologic class. Obtaining quality, high-resolution topography from a planetwide survey is vital to verifying our conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-389
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Volume123
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • heat flow
  • lithospheric flexure
  • planetary tectonics
  • Venus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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