loading page

Rifting Venus: Insights from Numerical Modeling
  • +3
  • Alessandro Regorda,
  • Cedric Thieulot,
  • Iris van Zelst,
  • Zoltan Erdos,
  • Julia Maia,
  • Susanne Buiter
Alessandro Regorda
Università degli Studi di Milano

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Cedric Thieulot
Utrecht University
Author Profile
Iris van Zelst
German Aerospace Center
Author Profile
Zoltan Erdos
The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Author Profile
Julia Maia
Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, Laboratoire Lagrange, Nice, France
Susanne Buiter
The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Author Profile


Venus is a terrestrial planet with dimensions similar to the Earth, but a vastly different geodynamic evolution, with recent studies debating the occurrence and extent of tectonic-like processes happening on the planet. The precious direct data that we have for Venus is very little, and there are only few numerical modeling studies concerning lithospheric-scale processes. However, the use of numerical models has proven crucial for our understanding of large-scale geodynamic processes of the Earth. Therefore, here we adapt 2D thermo-mechanical numerical models of rifting on Earth to Venus to study how the observed rifting structures on the Venusian surface could have been formed. More specifically, we aim to investigate how rifting evolves under the Venusian surface conditions and the proposed lithospheric structure. Our results show that a strong crustal rheology such as diabase is needed to localize strain and to develop a rift under the high surface temperature and pressure of Venus. The evolution of the rift formation is predominantly controlled by the crustal thickness, with a 25 km-thick diabase crust required to produce mantle upwelling and melting. The surface topography produced by our models fits well with the topography profiles of the Ganis and Devana Chasmata for different crustal thicknesses. We therefore speculate that the difference in these rift features on Venus could be due to different crustal thicknesses. Based on the estimated heat flux of Venus, our models indicate that a thin crust with a global average of 25 km is the most likely crustal thickness on Venus.