EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Estimating the seismicity of Venus by scaling Earth’s seismicity

Iris van Zelst1, Julia Maia2, Moritz Spühler1, Ana-Catalina Plesa1, Raphaël F. Garcia3, Richard Ghail4, Anna J. P. Gülcher5, Anna Horleston6, Taichi Kawamura7, Sara Klaasen8, Philippe Lognonné7, Csilla Orgel9, Mark Panning5, Leah Sabbeth5, and Krystyna Smolinksi8
Iris van Zelst et al.
  • 1German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany (
  • 2Université Côte d'Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, CNRS, Laboratoire Lagrange, Nice, France
  • 3Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace/SUPAERO, Toulouse University, Toulouse, France
  • 4Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK
  • 5Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 6School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 7Université de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, CNRS, Paris, France
  • 8Institute of Geophysics, Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 9European Space Agency ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

With the selection of multiple missions to Venus by NASA and ESA planned to launch in the coming decade, we will greatly improve our understanding of Venus as a planet. However, the selected missions cannot tell us anything about the seismicity on Venus, which is a crucial observable to constrain the tectonic activity and geodynamic regime of the planet, and its interior structure. 

Here, we provide new, preliminary estimates of Venus’ global annual seismic budget and the expected frequency of venusquakes per year. We obtain this estimate by scaling the seismicity of the Earth recorded in the CMT catalogue. We test different potential scaling factors based on e.g., the difference in mass, radius, potential seismogenic volume, etc. We also sort the earthquakes into their respective tectonic settings, which allows us to exclude irrelevant tectonic settings present on Earth, but most likely not on Venus from our analysis. This enables us to present a range of potential seismic budgets and venusquake frequencies per tectonic setting on Venus.  

This then provides a new estimate of the potential amount of seismicity on Venus. However, it is uncertain how valid this simple scaling approach is from Earth to Venus. Indeed, previous attempts of scaling the volcanism of Earth to Venus (Byrne & Krishnamoorthy, 2022; Van Zelst, 2022) resulted in numbers that aligned with independent estimates, but are still unconstrained and hard to verify until the announced missions fly. Therefore, in order to provide a more robust and holistic view of Venus’ anticipated seismicity, estimates using various different, independent methods should ideally be considered.

To provide exactly that, we set up the ISSI team ‘Seismicity on Venus: Prediction & Detection’. This is an interdisciplinary team of experts in seismology, geology, and geodynamics. Together we aim to assess the seismic activity on Venus from a theoretical and instrumental perspective. In addition to presenting our preliminary seismicity estimates from scaling Earth to Venus, we therefore also use this contribution to briefly introduce the team and its goals and present the preliminary findings from our first, week-long, dedicated in-person meeting aimed at further characterising Venus’ seismicity. 


Byrne, Paul K., and Siddharth Krishnamoorthy. "Estimates on the frequency of volcanic eruptions on Venus." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 127.1 (2022): e2021JE007040.

van Zelst, Iris. "Comment on “Estimates on the Frequency of Volcanic Eruptions on Venus” by Byrne & Krishnamoorthy (2022)." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (2022): e2022JE007448.

How to cite: van Zelst, I., Maia, J., Spühler, M., Plesa, A.-C., Garcia, R. F., Ghail, R., Gülcher, A. J. P., Horleston, A., Kawamura, T., Klaasen, S., Lognonné, P., Orgel, C., Panning, M., Sabbeth, L., and Smolinksi, K.: Estimating the seismicity of Venus by scaling Earth’s seismicity, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9086,, 2023.