Venus tesserae feature layered, folded, and eroded rocks

Paul K. Byrne, Richard Ghail, Martha Gilmore, A.M. Celal Sengor, Christian Klimczak, David Senske, Jennifer Whitten, Sara Khawja, Richard Ernst, Sean Solomon

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Tesserae on Venus are locally the stratigraphically oldest units preserved on the planet. These regions are characterized by pervasive tectonic deformation including normal faults, grabens, thrust faults, and folds. In multiple tesserae, sets of (often highly) curved, parallel linear features are also present. These features strongly resemble terracing in layered volcanic or sedimentary sequences on Earth having arcuate or sinuous outcrop patterns that follow undulating topography. Should this analogy hold for Venus, then these outcrop patterns imply some erosion of the tessera units in which these strata occur; radar-dark materials filling proximal lows might be deposits of that eroded material. This outcrop pattern is seen in geographically dispersed tessera units, so the preservation of layering could be common for this terrain type. If so, then tesserae record the culmination of volcanic and/or sedimentary deposition, folding, and erosion—complex geological histories that should be considered in future studies of this enigmatic terrain.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2020

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