Tidally driven strike-slip displacement on Europa: Viscoelastic modeling

Brandon Preblich, Richard Greenberg, Jeannie Riley, David O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The process of tide-driven walking, proposed as a major mechanism for strike-slip displacement on Europa, is modeled using a finite-element numerical simulation of the behavior of viscoelastic material. For material parameters that are plausible for the water ice composing Europa's crust, the simulation confirms earlier analytic results for strike-slip displacement along a crack that penetrates down to the liquid water substrate. The finite element code permits testing other cases as well. Of considerable interest is whether tidal walking can operate if a crack penetrates not to liquid but only as far as warm, relatively viscous ice. In such a case, significant displacement can be driven, but only if the threshold value of the compressive force needed to lock the fault is near the value of the overburden stress at the bottom of the crack. Such special conditions are not needed for displacement if the crack penetrates to the underlying ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1245
Number of pages21
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Europa
  • Geological processes
  • Ice mechanics
  • Tectonics
  • Tides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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