Planetary Sciences Editors' Highlights

How Did Venus Get its Youthful Surface?

Catastrophic lithospheric recycling is unlikely to be the cause of Venus’s young surface from mantle convection models constrained by offset between the center of mass and center of shape of planet.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets


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The origin of the apparently young age for the surface of Venus is one of the most fundamental and enigmatic questions in planetary science. Stated plainly, was the surface layer abruptly recycled into the interior or was the surface progressively renewed through volcanic and tectonic activity that left the majority of the surface layer intact? King [2018] suggests a new way to approach this problem by using another curious observation about Venus. That is that the offset distance between the center of mass of the planet and the center of the shape of the planet is relatively small. By calculating models of the circulation of the mantle the author finds that an episode of rapid recycling of the lithosphere into the interior is inconsistent with this offset as well as the young age of the surface and the lack of a magnetic field at Venus. These results have important implications for understanding how Venus has evolved, how plate tectonics may or may not operate on other planets, and the interaction between the interior and the surface of Venus which is important for how its runaway greenhouse atmosphere developed.

Citation: King, S. D. [2018]. Venus resurfacing constrained by geoid and topography. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JE005475

—Steven A. Hauck II, Editor-in-Chief, JGR: Planets

© 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0