Lakshmi Planum, Venus: Characteristics and models of origin
- Cite this article as:
- Roberts, K.M. & Head, J.W. Earth Moon Planet (1990) 50: 193. doi:10.1007/BF00142395
Lakshmi Planum is distinctive and unique on the surface of Venus as an expansive (~2 × 106km2), relatively smooth, flat plateau containing two large shield volcanoes and abundant volcanic plains in the midst of a region of extreme relief. It rises 3–5 km above the datum and is surrounded on all sides by bands of mountains interpreted to be of compressional tectonic origin. The major units mapped on Lakshmi are volcanic edifices, smooth, ridged and grooved plains units, and structural units referred to as ridged terrain. Three styles of volcanism are observed to dominate the surface of Lakshmi. Distributed effusive volcanism is associated with extensive plains deposits and many of the small shields, domes and cones mapped within the plateau. Centralized effusive volcanism is primarily associated with the paterae, Colette and Sacajawea, and their circumferential low-shield-forming deposits. The precise origin and evolution of these unusually large and complex structures is not understood, although a catastrophic, explosive origin is unlikely. Pyroclastic volcanism may be represented by a unit referred to as the “diffuse halo”. The origin and evolution of Lakshmi Planum is closely related to its compressional tectonic environment; volcanism on Lakshmi has occurred synchronously with tectonism in the surrounding orogenic belts. A model for the origin and evolution of Lakshmi Planum consisting of a continuous sequence of convergence and horizontal shortening of crustal segments against a preexisting block of tessera seems best able to account for the elevation, plateau shape and irregular polygonal outline of Lakshmi, as well as the presence of ridged terrain and its resemblance to tessera. Volcanism on Lakshmi is proposed to be the result of basal melting of a thickened crustal root. According to this model, the origin and evolution of Lakshmi Planum has consisted of the following sequence of events: (1) formation of a large, elevated block of tessera surrounded by low-lying plains; (2) convergence and underthrusting of crustal segments to produce peripheral mountain ranges, thickening, and uplift of the plateau; and (3) basal melting of the thickened crust and underthrust material and surface volcanism that occurred synchronously with continued edge deformation.