Flexure of Europa's lithosphere due to ridge-loading

T. A. Hurford, R. A. Beyer, B. Schmidt, B. Preblich, A. R. Sarid, R. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Using photoclinometry, topographic profiles across europan ridges have been produced. These profiles allow the identification of bulges in the terrain adjacent to the ridges. The bulges are assumed to have been produced by flexure of the elastic lithosphere due to the load of the ridges, which lie along cracks in the crust. The distance from the crack to these "fore-bulges" depends on the thickness of the elastic plate being flexed. Based on a survey of ridges in Galileo images with resolution <300 m/pixel, the thickness of the elastic lithosphere has been determined by this method at a wide variety of sites along the leading and trailing hemispheres of Europa. The average thickness is about 200 m. The elastic lithosphere underneath smooth dilational bands tends to be thicker than plains morphology, an effect that is pronounced at Thynia Linea and Astypalaea Linea. Among the ridges investigated here, more recent loading correlates with a thicker elastic lithosphere, which may either reflect an intrinsically thicker layer, or less viscous relaxation over the shorter time period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-396
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Europa
  • Satellite
  • Surfaces
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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