Distribution of strike-slip faults on Europa

Gregory Hoppa, Richard Greenberg, B. Randall Tufts, Paul Geissler, Cynthia Phillips, Moses Milazzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Study of four different regions on Europa imaged by the Galileo spacecraft during its first 15 orbits has revealed 117 strike-slip faults. Europa appears to form preferentially right-lateral faults in the southern hemisphere and left-lateral faults in the northern hemisphere. This observation is consistent with a model where diurnal tides due to orbital eccentricity drive strike-slip motion through a process of "walking," in which faults open and close out of phase with alternating right-and left-lateral shear. Lineaments that record both left-and right-lateral motion (e.g., Agave Linea) may record the accommodation of compression in nearby chaotic zones. Nearly all identified strike-slip faults were associated with double ridges or bands, and few were detected along ridgeless cracks. Thus the depth of cracks without ridges does not appear to have penetrated to the low-viscosity decoupling layer, required for diurnal displacement, but cracks that have developed ridges do extend down to such a level. This result supports a model for ridge formation that requires cracks to penetrate to a decoupling layer, such as a liquid water ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE00156
Pages (from-to)22617-22627
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE9
StatePublished - Sep 25 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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