Exploring the Planets

Volcanism on Venus

Venus has no water erosion and little wind erosion. Instead, volcanic eruptions are a major force reshaping the landscape. Differences in the types of erupted magma and the eruption rate lead to a wide variety of surface features.

Volcanic Plains

Smooth plains formed by fluid lava cover most of Venus. A dense pattern of fractures covers the plains in this image. Narrow ridges and fractures such as these form when the crust is pulled and pushed by geologic forces.

Width of image area: 198 km (123 mi.)

Great Volcanoes

Volcanoes of all sizes are found on Venus, from thousands of small domes that dot the plains to large mountains. This volcano, Sapas Mons, is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) tall and surrounded by lava flows. Two steep volcanic domes occur at the summit. Both show evidence of massive landslides along their flanks. The image color is computer generated.

Width of image area: 617 km (383 mi.)

Volcanic Domes

Large, steep-sided volcanic domes occur in clusters on Venus. They are often covered with complex fracture patterns.

Venus' surface Lava Domes


Canali are lava-carved channels similar to the sinuous rilles found on the Moon. The arrows in this image point out one such feature. Canali can extend more than 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles), longer than on any other planet. They probably formed when very hot fluid lava erupted onto the surface.

Width of image area: 158 km (98 mi.)

Canali on Venus

Lava Flow Fields

In some areas, volcanic activity persisted for a long time or produced such great volumes of magma that fields of lava flows were produced. This one, Mylitta Fluctus, is one of the largest, extending northward nearly 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from source vents along the lower part of the image.

Width of image area: 581 km (361 mi.)

Lava Flow Fields on Venus