Sciency Words: Global Resurfacing Event

Today’s post is part of a special series that first appeared on Planet Pailly. Every Thursday, we take a look at a new and interesting scientific term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s word is:

Global Resurfacing Event

Sometime between 300 and 600 million years ago, Venus experienced what scientists call a global resurfacing event.


It seems that all of a sudden, in some cataclysmic event, molten hot lava spread all over the planet’s surface, covering up pretty much everything. We know this because Venus’s surface, which has been mapped using radar altimetry, appears to be much younger than the planet itself, free of many of the impact crater blemishes we find on all the other terrestrial worlds in the Solar System.

What caused the global resurfacing event is a topic of heated debate (get it… heated!). Maybe this happened due to a really bad volcano day. Maybe some large object (Venus’s former moon?) collided with the planet. Maybe aliens bombarded Venus with planet crusher missiles… you know, as a warning to the dinosaurs. It’s also possible that Venus goes through periodic resurfacing events.

If this was a one time event, you have to wonder what Venus was like before it got resurfaced. If this is a recurring event, then it could be fun (as a science fiction writer) to speculate about what might happen when the next resurfacing event begins.


Craters on Venus from Universe Today.

Tectonics on Venus from Teach Astronomy.

Written by James Pailly.

To read all the articles in the ‘Sciency Words‘ series, visit the Planet Pailly blog.

  • Leonardo Faria

    My humble tuppence of speculation: the magnetic field of the planet goes completely nuts and the blimp sustained “floating cities”, which aren’t geostationary in the least, remain clueless about their own coordinates — their compasses being kaput, along with their radio-beacons that broadcast their position. Then they get stranded and, accordingly, hard to locate by the navigators of the space shuttles periodically sent by Earth to resupply them.

  • Paulo R. Mendes

    Personally, I prefer the rogue moon/planetoid hypothesis: an object hit Venus hard and make all magma in its interior spread through all its surface.

    • James Pailly

      That’s my favorite hypothesis too.

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        I like to imagine that there was an alien outpost in Venus when it was hit by the planetoid. when the magma spread through Venus surface, the defenses of the outpost created a powerful shield that protected the outpost of the heat of the magma and now, it is there, buried below all that solidified magma, just waiting for someone brave (or stupid) enough to uncover its treasures.

        and its horrors…