Europa: Initial Galileo Geological Observations

Ronald Greeley, Robert Sullivan, James Klemaszewski, Kim Homan, James W. Head, Robert T. Pappalardo, Joseph Veverka, Beth E. Clark, Torrence V. Johnson, Kenneth P. Klaasen, Michael Belton, Jeffrey Moore, Erik Asphaug, Michael H. Carr, Gerhard Neukum, Tilmann Denk, Clark R. Chapman, Carl B. Pilcher, Paul E. Geissler, R. GreenbergR. Tufts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Images of Europa from the Galileo spacecraft show a surface with a complex history involving tectonic deformation, impact cratering, and possible emplacement of ice-rich materials and perhaps liquids on the surface. Differences in impact crater distributions suggest that some areas have been resurfaced more recently than others; Europa could experience current cryovolcanic and tectonic activity. Global-scale patterns of tectonic features suggest deformation resulting from non-synchronous rotation of Europa around Jupiter. Some regions of the lithosphere have been fractured, with icy plates separated and rotated into new positions. The dimensions of these plates suggest that the depth to liquid or mobile ice was only a few kilometers at the time of disruption. Some surfaces have also been upwarped, possibly by diapirs, cryomagmatic intrusions, or convective upwelling. In some places, this deformation has led to the development of chaotic terrain in which surface material has collapsed and/or been eroded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-24
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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