Space Science Reviews

, 214:88 | Cite as

Venus Interior Structure and Dynamics

  • Suzanne E. Smrekar
  • Anne Davaille
  • Christophe Sotin
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Venus III


No two rocky bodies offer a better laboratory for exploring the conditions controlling interior dynamics than Venus and Earth. Their similarities in size, density, distance from the sun, and young surfaces would suggest comparable interior dynamics. Although the two planets exhibit some of the same processes, Venus lacks Earth’s dominant process for losing heat and cycling volatiles between the interior and the surface and atmosphere: plate tectonics. One commonality is the size and number of mantle plume features which are inferred to be active today and arise at the core mantle boundary. Such mantle plumes require heat loss from the core, yet Venus lacks a measurable interior dynamo. There is evidence for plume-induced subduction on Venus, but no apparent mosaic of moving plates. Absent plate tectonics, one essential question for interior dynamics is how did Venus obtain its young resurfacing age? Via catastrophic or equilibrium processes? Related questions are how does it lose heat via past periods of plate tectonics, has it always had a stagnant lid, or might it have an entirely different mode of heat loss? Although there has been no mission dedicated to surface and interior processes since the Magellan mission in 1990, near infrared surface emissivity data that provides information on the iron content of the surface mineralogy was obtained fortuitously from Venus Express. These data imply both the presence of continental-like crust, and thus formation in the presence of water, and recent volcanism at mantle hotspots. In addition, the study of interior dynamics for both Earth and exoplanets has led to new insights on the conditions required to initiate subduction and develop plate tectonics, including the possible role of high temperature lithosphere, and a renewed drive to reveal why Venus and Earth differ. Here we review current data that constrains the interior dynamics of Venus, new insights into its interior dynamics, and the data needed to resolve key questions.


Venus Crust Mantle Core Tectonics Plate tectonics Stagnant lid Mantle convection Hotspots Corona Subduction 



The manuscript was improved thanks to the detailed and constructive comments of Paul Tackley and Gerald Schubert. A portion of the work was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A.D was supported by the French Programme de Planétologie of CNRS-INSU/CNES.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne E. Smrekar
    • 1
  • Anne Davaille
    • 2
  • Christophe Sotin
    • 1
  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratoire FASTCNRS/Univ/Paris-Sud, Univ. Paris-SarclayOrsayFrance

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