Equilibrium resurfacing of Venus: Results from new Monte Carlo modeling and implications for Venus surface histories

E. E. Bjonnes, Vicki L Hansen, B. James, John B Swenson

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64 Scopus citations


Venus' impact crater population imposes two observational constraints that must be met by possible model surface histories: (1) near random spatial distribution of ~975 craters, and (2) few obviously modified impact craters. Catastrophic resurfacing obviously meets these constraints, but equilibrium resurfacing histories require a balance between crater distribution and modification to be viable. Equilibrium resurfacing scenarios with small incremental resurfacing areas meet constraint 1 but not 2, whereas those with large incremental resurfacing areas meet constraint 2 but not 1. Results of Monte Carlo modeling of equilibrium resurfacing (Strom et al., 1994) is widely cited as support for catastrophic resurfacing hypotheses and as evidence against hypotheses of equilibrium resurfacing. However, the Monte Carlo models did not consider intermediate-size incremental resurfacing areas, nor did they consider histories in which the era of impact crater formation outlasts an era of equilibrium resurfacing. We construct three suites of Monte Carlo experiments that examine incremental resurfacing areas not previously considered (5%, 1%, 0.7%, and 0.1%), and that vary the duration of resurfacing relative to impact crater formation time (1:1 [suite A], 5:6 [suite B], and 2:3 [suite C]). We test the model results against the two impact crater constraints.Several experiments met both constraints. The shorter the time period of equilibrium resurfacing, or the longer the time of crater formation following the cessation of equilibrium resurfacing, the larger the possible areas of incremental resurfacing that satisfy both constraints. Equilibrium resurfacing is statistically viable for suite A at 0.1%, suite B at 0.1%, and suite C for 1%, 0.7%, and 0.1% areas of incremental resurfacing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-461
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Hansen gratefully acknowledges the McKnight Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Grant NNX06AB90G ) for support of this work. Bjonnes thanks the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, and the McKnight Foundation for support. We thank K. Hekla, R. Maclin, and B. Shankar for discussions, and B. Campbell and an anonymous reviewer for careful and thoughtful comments.


  • Terrestrial planets
  • Venus
  • Venus, surface


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