Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 343–388 | Cite as

Eastern Aphrodite Terra on Venus: Characteristics, structure, and mode of origin

  • L. S. Crumpler
Part 3 Regional Geology


Eastern Aphrodite Terra and Western Aphrodite form an altimetrically prominent 14,000 km long part of the equatorial highlands on Venus. Several parallel linear discontinuities striking northwest across the general east-west regional strike of the highlands are mapped in the altimetric and radar image data of Eastern Aphrodite and identified on the basis of abrupt termination of rift-like central chasma, offset and segmentation of the center of the highlands, and radar image discontinuities in the lowlands to the north. These characteristics are similar to those of linear discontinuities previously mapped in Western Aphrodite in terms of length, orientation, and influence on the central highlands and adjacent lowlands.

Altimetric profiles in directions parallel to the discontinuities are regionally symmetric, more ridge-like in Eastern Aphrodite compared to the plateau-dominated form of topography in Western Aphrodite, and are characterized by alternating paired ridge-and-trough forms near their crests and on their flanks. By mapping the center of symmetry in multiple profiles, the prominent segmentation of the highland is shown to be imparted by an offset of the regional symmetry along the mapped discontinuities. These characteristics are morphologically similar to several of the large-scale characteristics of divergent plate boundaries of Earth, including mid-ocean rise crests and rifts, offset at fracture zones and transform faults, and symmetric thermal boundary layer topography.

The altitude of the surface in profiles parallel to the discontinuities decreases as the square root of distance from the symmetry axes and with a slope similar to that predicted for thermal boundary layer topography associated with rates of divergence on Venus of ~ 1 ± 0.5 cm/yr. In order to test the hypothesis that the linear discontinuities are analogous to fracture zones, the predicted altitude of the surface at great distance from the centers of symmetry of the central highland and in directions across the discontinuities was calculated on the basis of a thermal boundary layer topography model with offset of altimetric symmetry at each discontinuity. Similarity of observed Arecibo high-resolution altimetric profiles across the discontinuities with that calculated for thermal boundary layer topography offset by transform faults reveals that in terms of the sense and magnitude of regional steps in altimetry across discontinuities and the altitude of the surface, Eastern Aphrodite is similar to the known characteristics of crustal spreading at divergent boundaries. The plateau-like form of Western Aphrodite and the ridge-like form of Eastern Aphrodite are analogous respectively to the difference between areas of anomalous (Iceland) and normal crustal production along rise crests on Earth. Estimates of volumetric differences in crustal production in the environment of Venus and as it would be influenced by differences in mantle temperature beneath Western and Eastern Aphrodite imply that Eastern Aphrodite represents normal crustal production. On this basis, Western Aphrodite may be characterized by a mantle temperature that is warmer than the mantle beneath Eastern Aphrodite Terra, perhaps in association with deep convective mantle upwelling.


Fracture Zone Radar Image Convective Mantle Central Highland Mantle Upwelling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. S. Crumpler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceU.S.A.

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