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April 10th, 2015: The Tectonic History of Enceladus as Revealed in its Ridged Terrains

Posted on Mar 30, 2015 in Seminars

Alex Patthoff (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Fissures near the south pole of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus are observed to be erupting jets of water, which illustrates that the small moon is presently geologically active. Farther to the north, ridges, fractures, and relaxed crater topography preserve evidence for a surprisingly complex history of recent tectonic and thermal activity on the small moon. Here we demonstrate that the regions near the south pole, and along the leading and trailing hemispheres are each morphologically distinct, suggesting unique tectonic deformation events for each area. Previous researchers have demonstrated that some terrains appear to have experienced more ductile deformation, pointing to a significant amount of heat flux generated in the interior of the moon. We show that some ridged terrains, particularly on the leading and trailing hemispheres, preserve a history of apparent brittle deformation that accommodated significant contraction. This analysis of the ridge terrains seeks to constrain the recent and long-term tectonic history of Enceladus.