Volcanic and Tectonic Constraints on the Evolution of Venus

Richard C. Ghail*, Suzanne E. Smrekar, Thomas Widemann, Paul K. Byrne, Anna J.P. Gülcher, Joseph G. O’Rourke, Madison E. Borrelli, Martha S. Gilmore, Robert R. Herrick, Mikhail A. Ivanov, Ana Catalina Plesa, Tobias Rolf, Leah Sabbeth, Joe W. Schools, J. Gregory Shellnutt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Surface geologic features form a detailed record of Venus’ evolution. Venus displays a profusion of volcanic and tectonics features, including both familiar and exotic forms. One challenge to assessing the role of these features in Venus’ evolution is that there are too few impact craters to permit age dates for specific features or regions. Similarly, without surface water, erosion is limited and cannot be used to evaluate age. These same observations indicate Venus has, on average, a very young surface (150–1000 Ma), with the most recent surface deformation and volcanism largely preserved on the surface except where covered by limited impact ejecta. In contrast, most geologic activity on Mars, the Moon, and Mercury occurred in the 1st billion years. Earth’s geologic processes are almost all a result of plate tectonics. Venus’ lacks such a network of connected, large scale plates, leaving the nature of Venus’ dominant geodynamic process up for debate. In this review article, we describe Venus’ key volcanic and tectonic features, models for their origin, and possible links to evolution. We also present current knowledge of the composition and thickness of the crust, lithospheric thickness, and heat flow given their critical role in shaping surface geology and interior evolution. Given Venus’ hot lithosphere, abundant activity and potential analogues of continents, roll-back subduction, and microplates, it may provide insights into early Earth, prior to the onset of true plate tectonics. We explore similarities and differences between Venus and the Proterozoic or Archean Earth. Finally, we describe the future measurements needed to advance our understanding of volcanism, tectonism, and the evolution of Venus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jun


  • Coronae
  • Crust and surface composition
  • Formation of volcanic and tectonic features
  • Hotspot volcanism
  • Lava channels
  • Lithospheric thickness
  • Mantle dynamics
  • Plume-induced subduction
  • Subduction and plate tectonics
  • Topography
  • Venus
  • Venus resurfacing history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Volcanic and Tectonic Constraints on the Evolution of Venus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this