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Title: Cascading parallel fractures on Enceladus

Abstract

Active eruptions from the south polar region of Saturn’s ~500-km-diameter moon Enceladus are concentrated along a series of lineaments known as the ‘tiger stripes’, thought to be partially open fissures that connect to the liquid water ocean beneath the ice shell. To date, no study simultaneously explains why the tiger stripes should be located only at the south pole, why there are multiple approximately parallel and regularly spaced fractures, what accounts for their spacing of about 35 km, and why similarly active fissures have not been observed on other icy bodies. Here in this paper, we propose that secular cooling, which leads to a thickening of the ice shell and building of global tensile stresses, causes the first fracture to form at one of the poles, where the ice shell is thinnest owing to tidal heating. The tensile stresses are thereby relieved, preventing a similar failure at the opposite pole. The steadily erupting water ice loads the flanks of the open fissure, causing bending in the surrounding elastic plate and further tensile failure in bands parallel to the first fracture—a process that may be unique to Enceladus, where the gravity is too weak for compressive stresses to prevent fracture propagationmore » through the thin ice shell. The sequence of fissures then cascades outwards until the loading becomes too weak or the background shell thickness becomes too great to permit through-going fractures.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Carnegie Inst. of Science, Washington, DC (United States).; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of California, Davis, CA (United States)
  3. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); European Space Agency (ESA); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Carnegie Institution for Science
OSTI Identifier:
1603497
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Astronomy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 4; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 2397-3366
Publisher:
Springer Nature
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS

Citation Formats

Hemingway, Douglas J., Rudolph, Maxwell L., and Manga, Michael. Cascading parallel fractures on Enceladus. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-019-0958-x.
Hemingway, Douglas J., Rudolph, Maxwell L., & Manga, Michael. Cascading parallel fractures on Enceladus. United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-019-0958-x
Hemingway, Douglas J., Rudolph, Maxwell L., and Manga, Michael. Mon . "Cascading parallel fractures on Enceladus". United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-019-0958-x. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1603497.
@article{osti_1603497,
title = {Cascading parallel fractures on Enceladus},
author = {Hemingway, Douglas J. and Rudolph, Maxwell L. and Manga, Michael},
abstractNote = {Active eruptions from the south polar region of Saturn’s ~500-km-diameter moon Enceladus are concentrated along a series of lineaments known as the ‘tiger stripes’, thought to be partially open fissures that connect to the liquid water ocean beneath the ice shell. To date, no study simultaneously explains why the tiger stripes should be located only at the south pole, why there are multiple approximately parallel and regularly spaced fractures, what accounts for their spacing of about 35 km, and why similarly active fissures have not been observed on other icy bodies. Here in this paper, we propose that secular cooling, which leads to a thickening of the ice shell and building of global tensile stresses, causes the first fracture to form at one of the poles, where the ice shell is thinnest owing to tidal heating. The tensile stresses are thereby relieved, preventing a similar failure at the opposite pole. The steadily erupting water ice loads the flanks of the open fissure, causing bending in the surrounding elastic plate and further tensile failure in bands parallel to the first fracture—a process that may be unique to Enceladus, where the gravity is too weak for compressive stresses to prevent fracture propagation through the thin ice shell. The sequence of fissures then cascades outwards until the loading becomes too weak or the background shell thickness becomes too great to permit through-going fractures.},
doi = {10.1038/s41550-019-0958-x},
journal = {Nature Astronomy},
number = 3,
volume = 4,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {12}
}

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