Venus shows surprising hints of a new kind of tectonics | Science News


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Venus may be home to a new kind of tectonics

Jostling blocks of crust defy conventional wisdom on how the surfaces of rocky planets work

12:30pm, March 23, 2018
Venus' surface

MOVE IT  Venus may be more tectonically active than previously thought. The rocky planet’s surface is shown here in an image from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Venus’ crust is broken up into chunks that shuffle, jostle and rotate on a global scale, researchers reported in two talks March 20 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

New maps of the rocky planet’s surface, based on images taken in the 1990s by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft, show that Venus’ low-lying plains are surrounded by a complex network of ridges and faults. Similar features on Earth correspond to tectonic plates crunching together, sometimes creating mountain ranges, or pulling apart. Even more intriguing, the edges of the Venusian plains show signs of rubbing against each other, also suggesting these blocks of crust have moved, the researchers say.

“This is a new way of looking at the surface of Venus,” says planetary geologist Paul

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