Crustal displacement features on Europa
R. Tufts, R. Greenberg, P. Geissler, G. Hoppa (LPL, Univ. of Arizona), R. Pappalardo (Brown Univ.), R. Sullivan (Arizona State Univ.), Galileo Imaging Team
Significant crustal displacements of various types, including separations,
shear and vertical motions have been identified on Voyager and/or Galileo
images of Europa.
A San Andreas-sized strike-slip fault near the south pole, Astypalaea
Linea, exhibits a consistent 35km dextral offset over 810km of length
(Tufts etal, 1996). "Ratcheting" or "walking" caused by rotating diurnal
tidal stress is a plausible explanation for the large offset. Previously
undetected dextral shear has recently been found adjacent to Astypalaea
Linea, and a jagged crack seen near the north pole resembles early stages
in the formation of a left-lateral fault, symmetrical with the southern
Block rotation and translation involving opening of gaps and infill
from below has occurred in the antiJove region based on reconstruction of
wedge-shaped bands viewed by Galileo, giving high-resolution confirmation
of general deformation measured by Schenk and McKinnon (1989) in this
region. Block motions were in two separate directions and, as with
Astypalaea Linea, occurred approximately midway in a relative succession
of ridge and terrain formation.
High resolution observations of ridges have revealed extension
(widening), and downslope lineations in the medial groove - suggesting
mass wasting. Many ridges are flanked by parallel fractures,
exploitation of which by later stages of ridge development probably
creates the observed complex, braided morphologies. An example is
Asterius/Minos Linea, which encircles the Europan globe almost completely.
Some ridges visibly downwarp the underlying crust, which in one case is
calculated to have a local elastic thickness less than 200m. Crustal
fragments in Conamara Chaos include remnant ridges near their original
location, arguing that a melting process caused their disruption.