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This is an image of Europa showing what may be plates floating on a subsurface ocean.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Does Europa have a Surface in Motion?

The surface of Europa was carefully examined for types of faulting. These provide evidence of the kind of stress (pushing and shoving) which the crust of Europa has undergone through time. By identifying the "pushing forces", scientists can figure out how the surface of Europa moves.

The surface of Europa shows many signs of icy-volcanism:

  • smooth, unmodified plains
  • puddle-like flow
  • flooded terrain (see puddle-like flow)
  • plates (example shown here)
  • strike/slip faulting (similar to the San Andreas Fault of Earth)
Examination of the surface also shows a relatively uniform cratering pattern remeniscent of that of Venus & Earth.

This style of icy-volcanism proves to be different from either that of Callisto or Ganymede. (The other major moon of Jupiter, Io has a more conventional form of volcanism.) The difference has to do with heating in the interior of Europa


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Europa Ice Flows

This is an example of the surface of Europa. The surface may be flooded by fresh water from underground, which freezes when it touches the surface. The edges of the flow are rounded, like a puddle of water....more

Does Ganymede Have a Surface in Motion?

There has been no icy volcanism on Ganymede, nor continental drift, but it does seem that there have been movements of the surface. Examination of the surface of Ganymede reveals many kinds of faulting....more

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The diagram to the left shows a cutaway of the possible interior structure of Europa. The composition of the icy moons is mostly ice, therefore there is probably a small core of some rocky material buried...more

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Amalthea

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Callisto

Callisto was first discovered by Galileo in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites. Of the 60 moons it is the 8th closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 1,070,000 km. It is the 2nd largest...more

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