Venus is key to understanding what the early Earth was like during the late Archaean and early Proterozoic when precious resources were formed. While modern Venus is in a quiet state most of the time, is does enter into short periods of intense volcanic activity where the old surface of Venus is destroyed and a new one is created. In its early history when life evolved, Earth worked in a similar way to modern Venus.

“By understanding the ‘early Earth,’ we can predict where to find precious resources such as platinum and diamonds,” explained Dr. Richard Ghail, a Research Associate at the Imperial College in London. “We can also tell what aided life to appear on Earth, which will help us to seek evidence for life elsewhere.”

Ghail will present his research, “A Venus Analogue of Catastrophic Mantle Overturns on Precambrian Earth,” at the Earth Systems Processes conference on Wednesday, June 27, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Geological Society of America and the Geological Society of London will co-convene the June 24-28 meeting.

Ghail’s research has focused on understanding how Venus works during its prolonged quiet state. (But there is still considerable activity during these relatively quiet periods.)

“I realized that there is a similarity between Venus and the early Earth because both situations involve buoyant lithosphere (unlike modern Earth, which is able to subduct its lithosphere),” he said. “I will argue that, from the evidence from Venus, the early Earth did not have modern plate tectonics, but did have something that looked similar to it, which explains the confusing evidence from the geological record.”

Ghail will also assert that since this situation is unstable on Venus today, that the early Earth was the same way. Geologic evidence such as bursts in continental growth and some apparently global outpourings of komatiite (very high temperature) lavas support this idea.

His presentation is an assimilation of his and other scientists’ varied observations which explain several unanswered questions in the geology of the early Earth.



Contact: Ann Cairns
303-447-2020 x1156
Geological Society of America

During the Earth System Processes meeting, June 25-28, contact the GSA/GSL Newsroom at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre for assistance and to arrange for interviews: 44-131-519-4134

Ted Nield, GSL Science and Communications Officer
Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications

The abstract for this presentation is available at:

Post-meeting contact information:

Richard Ghail
Research Associate, Planetary Science
T.H. Huxley School, Imperial College
London, UK
Phone: 44-20-759-46436

Ted Nield
Geological Society of London

Ann Cairns
Geological Society of America
01-303-447-2020 ext. 1156