Shop Windows to the Universe

The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
There is no subduction of the crust of Venus (shown here).
Click on image for full size
NASA

The Venus Lithosphere

Like the Earth's lithosphere, the lithosphere of Venus is the not-so-rigid part of the crust of Venus which is cooler than the interior of Venus, somewhat like the film on top of a cup of hot cocoa. Unlike the Earth, the lithosphere of Venus may be too thick to move.

On E arth, the lithosphere can be pushed aside in response to the warmth of the Earth. The lithosphere then subducts, melts, and becomes part of the warm rising magma again. Thus on Earth, the recycling of the lithosphere keeps the lithosphere from becoming too thick.

The shape of the volcanoes suggests that in its history, Venus, like Mars, has built a thick lithosphere. A thick lithosphere supresses the motions of plates over a surface, even though the interior of the planet is warm enough for churning motions which cause material to rise from the deep interior.

Why would Venus, and not the Earth, have a thick lithosphere? The answer is that unlike the Earth, the rocky material which comprises the lithosphere of Venus does not contain enough trapped water to allow the lithosphere to deform and subduct. Thus the lithosphere cannot make way for hot, rising magma from the interior and instead stays in place and thickens by cooling gradually.

Nevertheless, on Venus, there may be mechanisms for the surface to turn over.


Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more

Volcanic Formations of Venus

Unlike Mars, it is not the size but the shape of the volcanoes which suggests that over its history Venus has built a thick lithosphere. The shape of the volcanoes suggests that there has been no slumping...more

An Overview of the History of Venus

The terrestrial planets formed by accretion of rocky material and volatiles out of the primitive solar nebula. As they finished forming, about 4 Billion Years ago, the surface continued to be bombarded...more

Venus Tectonism

Like Mars, there is no plate tectonics on the surface of Venus. The surface of Venus does not *seem* to have changed or moved in billions of years. Unlike the case of Mars, however, careful examination...more

Alpha Regio

Alpha Regio and Ovda Regio are examples of what is known as a "Plateau Highland" of Venus. Among the volcanic features of Alpha Regio is Eve Mons. Unlike volcanic rises, plateau highlands have few volcanoes,...more

Aphrodite Terra

Aphrodite Terra, the Greek name for the goddess Venus, is about half the size of the African continent, and is to be found along Venus' equator. Aphrodite Terra is different from Ishtar Terra in that,...more

Beta Regio

Beta Regio and Atla Regio are examples of what is known as a volcanic rise. Volcanic rises are broad, sloping highlands over 1000 km across. They are cut by deep troughs 100-200 km across. These troughs...more

Ishtar Terra

Ishtar Terra is one of the Plateau Highlands of Venus, is found near the north pole, and is about the size of the continental United States. Ishtar Terra contains the four main mountain ranges of Venus...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA