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Regional-Scale Lithospheric Recycling on Venus via Peel-Back Delamination
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  • Andrea Adams,
  • Dave Stegman,
  • Suzanne E Smrekar,
  • Paul James Tackley
Andrea Adams
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

Corresponding Author:aca009@ucsd.edu

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Dave Stegman
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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Suzanne E Smrekar
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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Paul James Tackley
ETH Zurich
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We currently have a limited understanding of the tectonic framework that governs Venus. Schubert and Sandwell (1995) identified over 10,000 km of possible subduction sites at both coronae and chasmata rift zones. Previous numerical and experimental studies have shown the viability of regional-scale lithospheric recycling via plume-lithosphere interactions at coronae, yet little work has been done to study the possibility of resurfacing initiated at Venusian rift zones. We created 2D numerical models to test if and how regional-scale resurfacing could be initiated at a lateral lithospheric discontinuity. We observed several instances of peel-back delamination - a form of lithospheric recycling in which the dense lithospheric mantle decouples and peels away from the weak, initially 30 km-thick crust, leaving behind a hot, thinned layer of crust at the surface. Delamination initiation is driven by the negative buoyancy of the lithospheric mantle and is resisted by the coupling of the plate across the Moho, the significant positive buoyancy of the crust arising from a range of crustal densities, and the viscous strength of the plate. Initial plate bending promotes yielding and weakening in the crust, which is crucial to allow decoupling of the crust and lithospheric mantle. When there is sufficient excess negative buoyancy in the lithospheric mantle, both positively and negatively buoyant plates may undergo delamination. Following a delamination event, the emplacement of hot, buoyant asthenosphere beneath the crust may have consequences for regional-scale volcanism and local tectonic deformation on Venus within the context of the regional equilibrium resurfacing hypothesis.