Rapid lithification masks the Venus sedimentary cycle

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Venera lander data are usually assumed to indicate basaltic lavas but a significant fraction of the rock material must be volatiles, such as sulphur, implying at least strongly weathered basalts. The lander images most closely resemble sedimentary material, with layered strata (which may be pyroclastic in origin) that are sometimes broken into cobbles and fine grained sediment. The Magellan SAR was relatively insensitive to loose fine-grained material under Venus surface conditions but the reprocessed data reveal a range of weathering processes, particularly at higher elevations, and mass wasting of steep slopes. Mean wind speeds are strongly altitude dependent and are able to erode and transport material throughout the highland regions. In some areas, this material is deposited on adjacent plains where, under the extreme Venus surface conditions, lithification is an apparently rapid process. Thus the largely featureless plains may not be igneous at all but sedimentary in origin. The settling out and lithification of sedimentary material is consistent with observed crater degradation, in which low-lying crater floors are infilled first.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Planetary Science Congress 2015, held 27 September - 2 October, 2015 in Nantes, France
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

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