Europa's rate of rotation derived from the tectonic sequence in the Astypalaea region

Gregory V. Hoppa, B. Randall Tufts, Richard Greenberg, T. A. Hurford, D. P. O'Brien, Paul E. Geissler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The most recent visible tectonic features in the Astypalaea region in the southern hemisphere of Europa are a set of cycloidal ridges, three of which have cross-cutting relationships that define a time sequence for their formation. The longitudes at which each of these features formed, which may be different from the current location due to rotation of Europa, are constrained by models of their formation. Reconciling the time sequence with the inferred longitudes of formation appears to require that <1 cycloidal crack formed in this region per 180° of rotation relative to the direction of Jupiter. Given that limit on the rate of crack formation, and the implication from the paucity of craters that much of the region has been resurfaced by tectonics within the past 50 million years, Europa's nonsynchronous rotation period must be <250,000 years, consistent with the lower limit of 12,000 years demonstrated earlier. A rotation rate in this range would be fast enough to be directly observed in the not-too-distant future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Europa
  • Satellites of Jupiter
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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