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Applicant -- The Tectonic History of Enceladus as Revealed in its Ridges and Fractures

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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 relatively recent 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. We also explore the cratered regions of Enceladus and show evidence for two additional periods of deformation: an ancient period of tectonic deformation preserved in very old fractures and ridges, and a very recent period of extension suggested by numerous visible fractures.

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