Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa May Quake Just Like Earth

Europa. Image: NASA

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may have an active system of plate tectonics much like our own planet, say US scientists.

Previously, the only body in the solar system known to have been shaped by a network of moving tectonic plates was Earth.

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa has one of the youngest planetary surfaces in the Solar System.

Using Galileo spacecraft images, scientists produced a tectonic reconstruction of geologic features across a 134,000 km2 region of Europa.

“We propose that Europa’s ice shell has a brittle, mobile, plate-like system above convecting warmer ice.

“Hence, Europa may be the only Solar System body other than Earth to exhibit a system of plate tectonics. “

The study by Simon A. Kattenhorn of the University of Idaho and Louise M. Prockter of Johns Hopkins University is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

A cross section of the surface of Europa.

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