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View Full Version : Plate tectonics on Europa?



lpetrich
2014-Sep-08, 11:33 PM
Scientists Find Evidence of ‘Diving’ Tectonic Plates on Jupiter’s Moon Europa | NASA (http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/september/scientists-find-evidence-of-diving-tectonic-plates-on-jupiter-s-moon-europa/index.html#.VA368PmwLMo)
Subduction on Europa: the case for plate tectonics in the ice shell (http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/pdf/1003.pdf) at the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2014)
Evidence for subduction in the ice shell of Europa : Nature Geoscience : Nature Publishing Group (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2245.html)
Abstract:

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa has one of the youngest planetary surfaces in the Solar System, implying rapid recycling by some mechanism. Despite ubiquitous extension and creation of new surface area at dilational bands that resemble terrestrial mid-ocean spreading zones, there is little evidence of large-scale contraction to balance the observed extension or to recycle ageing terrains. We address this enigma by presenting several lines of evidence that subduction may be recycling surface material into the interior of Europa’s ice shell. Using Galileo spacecraft images, we produce a tectonic reconstruction of geologic features across a 134,000 km^2 region of Europa and find, in addition to dilational band spreading, evidence for transform motions along prominent strike-slip faults, as well as the removal of approximately 20,000 km^2 of the surface along a discrete tabular zone. We interpret this zone as a subduction-like convergent boundary that abruptly truncates older geological features and is flanked by potential cryolavas on the overriding ice. We propose that Europa’s ice shell has a brittle, mobile, plate-like system above convecting warmer ice. Hence, Europa may be the only Solar System body other than Earth to exhibit a system of plate tectonics.

Let's see what their colleagues think about that.