Washington, July 9 ANI | 20 days ago

A new laboratory model suggested that the ridges and troughs shaped on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede were formed the same way as Earth's tectonic process.


Physical analog models were created that could simulate geologic structures in laboratory settings so that the developmental sequence of various phenomena could be studied as they occur.

The research suggested that characteristic patterns of ridges and troughs, called grooved terrain on Ganymede, resulted from its surface being stretched.

The team, including researchers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Wheaton College, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NuStar Energy LP, created complex patterns of faults in their models, similar to the ridge and trough features seen in some regions of Ganymede and the models consisted of a "wet clay cake" material possessing brittle characteristics to simulate how the icy moon's lithosphere, the outermost solid shell, responded to stresses by cracking.



Dr. David Ferrill, director of the Earth, Material and Planetary Sciences Department in the SwRI Geosciences and Engineering Division, said that these scaled models were able to reproduce the fine geometric details of geologic processes, such as faulting, and helped in developing and testing hypotheses for landscape evolution on planetary bodies.

The study is published in Geophysical Research Letters.

(Posted on 09-07-2014)