Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 4, 2014

Venusian Volcano with Landslides (EDM)
Venusian Volcano with Landslides (EDM)

Credits: NASA/JPL - Magellan Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This Extra Detail Magnification ("EDM") taken from a NASA - Magellan Spacecraft Full-Resolution Mosaic which covers an area of approx. 143 by 146 Km (such as about 88,8 by 90,6 miles) is centered on a Volcanic Venusian Region located at 55° North Latitude and 266° East Longitude. The bright Surface Fature, located slightly South of the center of the mosaic, is interpreted to be a very old Volcano, approx. 15-20 Km (such as about 9,3 to 12,4 miles) in diameter, with a large Apron of Blocky (---> Rocky Blocks) Debris to its right (Dx - West) and some smaller Aprons to its left (Sx - East). A preferred explanation (by Planetary Scientists) is that several Massive Catastrophic Landslides dropped down Steep Slopes and, afterwards, were carried away by their momentum (---> inertia) out into the smooth, dark Lava Plains. At the base of the East-facing - or largest - Scallop characterizing the Volcano there is what appears to be a large Block of "Coherent! Rock, approx. 10 Km (such as about 6,21 miles) long. The margin of both the Scallop and Block (as well as their shape) is, in general, something typical and similar - as far as our Home Planet Earth is concerned - to the so-called "Terrestrial Slumped Blocks" (---> Masses of Rocks which slide and rotate down a Slope instead of breaking apart and then tumbling). The bright Lobe located to the South of the Volcano could either be a large Lava Flow, or a mass of finer (---> smaller) Rocky Debris which derived from other Massive Landslides.

This Volcanic Feature, characterized by Scalloped Flanks, is part of a class of Volcanoes called "Scalloped" (or either "Collapsed Domes"), of which there are more than 80 known, so far, on Venus. Based on the chute-like shapes of the Scallops, and the existence of a spectrum of intermediate to well defined examples, it has been hypothesized that all of the Scallops may be remnants of Landslides, even though the Landslides' Debris are often not visible. A possible explanations for the missing (---> not visible) Debris is that they might have been covered by Lava Flows, or - perhaps - that they were heavily weathered (---> physically influenced by the extremely harsh Venusian Environment), or - last but not least reasonable hypothesis - the radar onboard the NASA - Magellan Spacecraft might have not "recognized" (---> visually isolated) the aforementioned Rocky Debris because the Individual Blocks forming them were too small (to be detected).

This frame (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - Magellan Spacecraft Radio-Image Full-Resolution Mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the n. PIA 00264), since it is just a Radio-Image of the Venusian Surface and NOT a real view of it, has been colorized, according to an educated guess carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), in what they could reasonably be its possible Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Magellan Spacecraft and, once the thick layer of Venusian Clouds and Fogs is completely overcome, looked down, towards the Surface of Venus itself), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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