Shell tectonics: A mechanical model for strike-slip displacement on Europa

Alyssa Rose Rhoden, Gilead Wurman, Eric M. Huff, Michael Manga, Terry A. Hurford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

We introduce a new mechanical model for producing tidally-driven strike-slip displacement along pre-existing faults on Europa, which we call shell tectonics. This model differs from previous models of strike-slip on icy satellites by incorporating a Coulomb failure criterion, approximating a viscoelastic rheology, determining the slip direction based on the gradient of the tidal shear stress rather than its sign, and quantitatively determining the net offset over many orbits. This model allows us to predict the direction of net displacement along faults and determine relative accumulation rate of displacement. To test the shell tectonics model, we generate global predictions of slip direction and compare them with the observed global pattern of strike-slip displacement on Europa in which left-lateral faults dominate far north of the equator, right-lateral faults dominate in the far south, and near-equatorial regions display a mixture of both types of faults. The shell tectonics model reproduces this global pattern. Incorporating a small obliquity into calculations of tidal stresses, which are used as inputs to the shell tectonics model, can also explain regional differences in strike-slip fault populations. We also discuss implications for fault azimuths, fault depth, and Europa's tectonic history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalIcarus
Volume218
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012

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Keywords

  • Europa
  • Rotational dynamics
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Rhoden, A. R., Wurman, G., Huff, E. M., Manga, M., & Hurford, T. A. (2012). Shell tectonics: A mechanical model for strike-slip displacement on Europa. Icarus, 218(1), 297-307. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2011.12.015