Cycloidal cracks on Europa: Improved modeling and non-synchronous rotation implications

T. A. Hurford, A. R. Sarid, R. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Cycloidal crack patterns on Europa are influenced by tides induced by orbital eccentricity, which in turn is driven by the Laplace orbital resonance. Their shapes potentially record the location of their formation (relative to the direction of Jupiter), as well as the parameters of crack formation. Hoppa et al. [Hoppa, G., Tufts, B.R., Greenberg, R., Geissler, P., 1999a. Icarus 141, 287-298] modeled several cycloid chains using a fixed set of material parameters, but some details did not fit. We now allow material parameters to vary for each arc of an observed cycloid. In general, with minimal variation of model parameters between the arcs, fits are greatly improved. Furthermore, accounting for tidal stress accumulated during non-synchronous rotation, in addition to diurnal stress, allows even better fits. Even with the added freedom in the model our fits allow us to better constrain the location where each cycloid may have formed. Our results support Hoppa et al.'s finding that only a few cracks form ridges per cycle of non-synchronous rotation in the region examined, probably because cracking relieves built up stress until further substantial rotation occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-233
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Europa
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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