Thesis Carried out
Geologic evolution of Ishtar Terra
Digital Elevation Model of Ishtar Terra.
The "Magellan" mission
to Venus, ended in 1994, provided for the first time images of
almost 70% of the Venusian surface. This has been possible by
using radar techniques that penetrate through the thick cloud
cover surrounding Venus. The new Magellan data have shown how
complicated the venusian surface deformation style and geology
are. Ishtar Terra is one of the most problematic areas. Ishtar
Terra is a large highland in the northern hemisphere of Venus.
Ishtar Terra is a complex feature because it is the site of both
compression, along its border, and volcanism, at its interior.
Four mountain belts (Maxwell, Freyja, Akna and Danu Montes) are
present in Ishtar and they bound a large volcanic plateau, Lakshmi
Planum. The outermost portion of this region is represented by
highly deformed areas, Tesserae, such as Fortuna, Itzpapalotl,
Atropos and Clotho Tessera. The presence of mountain belts makes
Ishtar unique among the Venusian highlands and implies peculiar
crustal mechanism for its formation. The compressional nature
of the lineaments composing the mountain belt range, has been
recognized since Venera 15-16 and Arecibo radar images data [1,2,3,4,5].
On the radar image, the mountain belts characterized by a very
bright tone and it has been interpreted as the result of an altitude-depending
weathering effect that has dramatically enhanced the electrical
properties of the surface .
Our detailed study [7,8] on the geology, stratigraphic
and structural analysis has shown that the geological evolution
of the study area can be explained in four main steps:
- 1) formation of the older substrata of surrounding
- 2) extensive plain emplacement,
- 3) orogenic phase and formation of Akna Montes,
- 4) local emplacement of younger plains.
The tectonic evolution of Ishtar Terra can
be interpred as a sequence of contractional,
shear and topographic relaxation events. This kind of sequence
is interpreted as a consequence of the variation of crustal stresses
and crustal thickenning during the orogenic event as observed
for terrestrial high plateau associated with a mountain belt (i.e.
Himalaya and Tibet, Ande and Altiplano). At the initial stage
of convergence, the biggest stress is horizontal and allows the
formation of compressional features.Subsequently, the crust starts
to become thicker since the minimum horizontal stress is equal
to the vertical one; this is the stage of shear deformation development.
The last phase is extensional and arrives when the vertical stress
become the higher value.
Using two end-members for structural style of one of the mountain
belt, Akna Montes. We estimated the amount of crustal shortening
associated with the mountain belt for symmetric folds model and
fault-bend folds model. For the first model the amount of shortening
is less than 1% whereas values ranging between 17-34% can be reached
for the second one. The large difference between these values
uderscores the importance of a geodynamic model of the mountain
belt formation for strain estimates. These values, however, do
place bounds on the amount of strain recorded by Akna.
 Pronin, A.A., The structures of Lakshmi
Planum, an indication of horizontal asthenospheric flows on Venus,
Geotectonics, 20, 271-281, 1986
 Basilevsky, A.T., Structures of central and eastern areas
of Ishtar Terra and some problems of venusian tectonics, Geotectonics,
20, 282-288, 1986
 Crumpler, L.S., Head, J.W., Campbell,
D.B., Orogenic belts on Venus, Geology, 14, 1031-1034, 1986
 Head, J.W, The formation of mountain
belts on Venus: Evidence for large-scale convergence, underthrusting,
and crustal imbrication in Freyja Montes, Ishtar Terra, Geology,
18, 99-102, 1990
 Vorder Bruegge, R.W., Head, J.W., Campbell, D.B., Orogeny
and large-scale strike-slip faulting on Venus: Tectonic evolution
of Maxwell Montes, J. Geophys. Res., 95,357-8,381, 1990
 Pettengill, G.H., Ford, P.G. and Wilson L., Venus surface
radiothermal emission as observed by Magellan, J. Geophys. Res.,
97, 15,923-15,948, 1992
 Marinangeli L., Geologia dell'Ishtar Terra Occidentale (Venere)
ed evidenze geologiche del comportamento litosferico del pianeta,
PhD Thesis, Universita' di Bologna, 1998
 Marinangeli, L. & Gilmore M.S., Geologic history of the
Akna Montes-Atropos Tessera region, in preparation