Failure Modes of the Lineaments on Jupiter's Moon, Europa
Personnel: Atilla Aydin
Support: This is Atilla's hobby and any coins you can throw in his way will be appreciated!
Description: Lineaments referred to as ridges, troughs, bands, and faults on the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa, have long been interpreted as extensional structures due to brittle fracturing of ice and intrusion of the mobile materials from the interior of the satellite. This project explores the possibility that the kinematics and failure mechanisms of these structures are variable and more complex than previously thought. A dense network of structures of multiple generations, forming the background on the surface of the planet, is here interpreted as localized zones of volumetric strain, likely compaction and/or dilation bands. The next class of linear failure structures is shear bands with significant offset of the pre-existing markers. The mode of youngest features can be characterized as sharp, dilational, brittle fracturing and subsequent shearing, thereby producing fragmentation in various sizes, leading to a series of younger faults with detectable vertical, as well as lateral, offset. This rich variability in the nature of localization, kinematics, and formation mechanisms, if true, suggests that the conditions prevailing within the crust of Europa must have changed dramatically over time. The implication of this conclusion is that structures interpreted to be compaction/dilation bands and shear bands are localized zones of strain and are composed of deformed materials similar to the surrounding ice, whereas the youngest faults developed by brittle fracturing and fragmentation, and may be conduits for mobile substrate to reach the surface, and thus, offer the highest potential for recovering evidence for life on the satellite.

Aydin, A., Failure modes of the lineaments on Jupiter's moon, Europa: Implications for the evolution of its icy crust (in review). Journal of Structural Geology.