The implications of tides on the Mimas ocean hypothesis

Alyssa Rose Rhoden, Wade Henning, Terry A. Hurford, D. Alex Patthoff, Radwan Tajeddine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We investigate whether a present-day global ocean within Mimas is compatible with the lack of tectonic activity on its surface by computing tidal stresses for ocean-bearing interior structure models derived from observed librations. We find that, for the suite of compatible rheological models, peak surface tidal stresses caused by Mimas' high eccentricity would range from a factor of 2 smaller to an order of magnitude larger than those on tidally active Europa. Thermal stresses from a freezing ocean, or a past higher eccentricity, would enhance present-day tidal stresses, exceeding the magnitudes associated with Europa's ubiquitous tidally driven fractures and, in some cases, the failure strength of ice in laboratory studies. Therefore, in order for Mimas to have an ocean, its ice shell cannot fail at the stress values implied for Europa. Furthermore, if Mimas' ocean is freezing out, the ice shell must also be able to withstand thermal stresses that could be an order of magnitude higher than the failure strength of laboratory ice samples. In light of these challenges, we consider an ocean-free Mimas to be the most straightforward model, best supported by our tidal stress analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-410
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Mimas
  • ocean worlds
  • satellite tides
  • tidal heating
  • tidal tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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