Petrological modeling of basaltic rocks from Venus: A case for the presence of silicic rocks

J. Gregory Shellnutt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of highly evolved igneous rocks on Venus is a controversial issue. The formations of highland terranes and pancake domes are the two principal tectonic and volcanic features which argue in favor of the presence of silicic igneous rocks; however, the lack of water on Venus casts doubt on whether or not granites and rhyolites can form. Data returned to Earth from the Venera 13 and 14 landers show that the surface of Venus is composed of basaltic rocks similar in composition to those found on Earth. Here it is shown that anhydrous and hydrous fractional crystallization modeling using the Venera 13 and 14 data as starting materials can produce compositions similar to terrestrial phonolites and rhyolites. It is suggested that at shallow crustal levels (i.e., ≤ 0.1 GPa), mafic magmas can differentiate into silicic magmas resembling phonolites or rhyolites which may or may not erupt. Furthermore, the hydrous equilibrium partial melting models can produce rocks similar to terrestrial andesites and rhyolites, whereas anhydrous models suggest that there may be a uniquely Venusian type of silicic rock. The silicic rocks, if present, could act as "continental nucleation" sites and/or their presence may facilitate preferential sites of shearing and deformation of the Venusian crust. Key Points Dry fractionation of Venusian basaltic rocks can produce silicic magmasPancake domes may be surficial expression of shallow level magma chambersConcentration of silicic rocks may form continental nucleation sites on Venus

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1350-1364
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun


  • Modeling
  • Venera 13 and 14
  • Venus
  • equilibrium partial melting
  • fractional crystallization
  • silicic rocks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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