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Domes, pits, and small chaos on Europa produced by water sills

Abstract : Pits, domes, and small chaos on Europa's surface are quasi-circular features a few to a few tens of kilometers in diameter. We examine if injection of water sills into Europa's ice shell and their subsequent evolution can induce successive surface deformations similar to the morphologies of these features. We study the dynamics of water spreading within the elastic part of the ice shell and show that the mechanical properties of ice exert a strong control on the lateral extent of the sill. At shallow depths, water makes room for itself by lifting the overlying ice layer and water weight promotes lateral spreading of the sill. In contrast, a deep sill bends the underlying elastic layer and its weight does not affect its spreading. In that case, the sill lateral extent is limited by the fracture toughness of ice and the sill can thicken substantially. After emplacement, cooling of the sill warms the surrounding ice and thins the overlying elastic ice layer. As a result, preexisting stresses in the elastic part of the ice shell increase locally to the point that they may disrupt the ice above the sill (small chaos). Disruption of the surface also allows for partial isostatic compensation of water weight, leading to a topographic depression at the surface (pit), of the order of ~102 m. Complete water solidification finally causes expansion of the initial sill volume and results in an uplifted topography (dome) of ~102m.
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JGR Planets - 2014 - Michaut -...
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Chloé Michaut, Michael Manga. Domes, pits, and small chaos on Europa produced by water sills. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, 119, pp.550-573. ⟨10.1002/2013JE004558⟩. ⟨insu-03581141⟩



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