The surface of Europa is crossed by bands and ridges of a variety of specific morphologies. Reconstruction of gray and wedge-shaped bands indicates that they formed through opening and separation of lithospheric blocks atop a liquid or ductile substratum, perhaps broadly analogous to processes that operate in terrestrial sea ice. Furthermore, theoretical models of thermal balance suggest that a liquid water ocean may underlie the icy surface of Europa. We have begun investigation of whether the landforms of Europa can be explained through analogy to terrestrial sea ice processes. We propose a sequence in which cyclical tensional and compressional stresses (predicted from nonsynchronous rotation) open and close lithospheric scale ice plates to produce dark bands, triple bands, and ridges.
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
- Pub Date:
- March 1996
- ICY SATELLITES