What an international team of researchers discovered recently is truly intriguing. Apparently, the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, has layering that is consistent with volcanic activity. The discovery could offer insights into the mysterious planet’s geological history.
Tesserae are tectonically irregular areas on Venus’ surface, and often, they’re elevated than the surrounding landscape. They also include approximately 7 % of the planet’s surface and are one of the oldest features, dating back to 750 million years old.
The new research shows a significant part of the tesserae has striations consistent with layering. Here is what you need to know.
How Significant Are the Tesserae
The team examined pictures of Venus’ surface from NASA’s 1989 Magellan mission, which utilized radar to image 98 % of the planet through its thick atmosphere. While the team has analyzed the tesserae for years, the tesserae’s layering hasn’t been discussed before this recent study. According to researchers, that layering would not be there if the tesserae were portions of continental crust.
Paul Byrne is an associate professor of planetary science at North Carolina State University and the lead author of the recent study. He offered some details, noting: “[…] some portions of the tesserae being made up of layered volcanic rock, similar to that found on Earth.”
According to the team, there are generally two explanations for tesserae. First, they’re actually made of volcanic rocks or they’re some counterparts of Earth’s continental crust.
However, the layering discovered by the team on some of the tesserae isn’t consistent at all with the continental crust explanation. The continental crust comprises mainly granite, an igneous rock emerged when tectonic plates move, and water is subducted from the surface. Researchers still need more time to figure out things, but they’re sure on the right track.
Byrne and his team hope that the study will help to shed light on more of Venus’ puzzling geological history.
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