Effects of crustal heterogeneity on the morphology of chasmata, Venus

Leslie F. Bleamaster, Vicki L. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Ix-Chel, Kuanja, and Vir-ava Chasmata (IKVC) are a 7000-km-long collection of discontinuous topographic troughs and deformation suites. Collectively, they account for approximately 12.5% of the ∼55,000 linear km of chasmata on Venus; however, morphologically the IKVC differs significantly from the majority (75%) of Venusian chasmata because it lacks corona features. Coronae represent notable volumes of material both erupted onto the surface and intruded into the crust. Together with chasmata, coronae may also be important indicators of Venus's interior convective processes as well as significant contributors to Venus's heat loss. Although IKVC lacks coronae, detailed geologic and structural mapping along its length highlights previously unrecognized structural and volcanic relationships indicative of local uplift, collapse, and volcanism we call pseudocoronae. In light of this mapping, previous corona formation models (theoretical and numerical) are evaluated, and an amended hypothesis (diapir stagnation) is presented for pseudocorona formation. The diapir stagnation model proposes that variations of the crustal thickness perturb corona formation and thus affect their resultant surface morphology. Chasmata are accompanied by corona development when forming in regions of relatively thin, or normal (plains-type), crust (<20 km) but lack corona features when influenced by crustal heterogeneities (mechanical and chemical) at depth associated with thick crustal plateau roots (35-80 km (e.g., Ovda, Thetis, and Phoebe Regius)). Beneath crustal plateaus, diapiric rise is inhibited by (1) the presence of a low-density crustal keel that creates a deep-seated density trap and (2) a composition-dependent mechanically weak crust-mantle boundary layer. Diapir stagnation can be characterized or accompanied by minimal broad doming of the surface, formation of radial and concentric extension structures, lateral dike propagation, and collapse, all of which may be accompanied by limited volume surface eruptions of the lowest density melt phases. Through time, the crust-mantle boundary layer may repeatedly lift and subside through conductive heating and viscous flow, which may allow more voluminous melt migration and eruption; however, true coronae fail to develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E02004 1 - E02004 16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 25 2004


  • Chasmata
  • Coronae
  • Mapping
  • Tectonics
  • Venus


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