Pyroclastic flow deposits on Venus as indicators of renewed magmatic activity

Bruce A. Campbell, Gareth A. Morgan, Jennifer L. Whitten, Lynn M. Carter, Lori S. Glaze, Donald B. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Radar bright deposits on Venus that have diffuse margins suggest eruptions that distribute debris over large areas due to ground-hugging flows from plume collapse. We examine deposits in eastern Eistla, western Eistla, Phoebe, and Dione Regiones using Magellan data and Earth-based radar maps. The radar bright units have no marginal lobes or other features consistent with viscous flow. Their morphology, radar echo strength, polarization properties, and microwave emissivity are consistent with mantling deposits composed of few centimeters or larger clasts. This debris traveled downhill up to ~100 km on modest slopes and blanketed lava flows and tectonic features to depths of tens of centimeters to a few meters over areas up to 40 × 103 km2. There is evidence for ongoing removal and exhumation of previously buried terrain. A newly identified occurrence is associated with a ridge belt south of Ushas Mons. We also note radar bright streaks of coarse material west of Rona Chasma that reflect the last traces of a deposit mobilized by winds from the formation of Mirabeau crater. If the radar bright units originate by the collapse of eruption columns, with coarse fragmental material entrained and fluidized by hot gases, then their extent suggests large erupted volatile (CO2 or H2O) amounts. We propose that these deposits reflect the early stage of renewed magmatic activity, with volatile-rich, disrupted magma escaping through vents in fractured regions of the upper crust. Rapidly eroding under Venus surface conditions or buried by subsequent eruptions, these markers of recently renewed activity have disappeared from older regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1580-1596
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Venus
  • radar
  • volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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