Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.
This image shows the dark terrain of Ganymede.
Click on image for full size

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. These provide evidence of the kind of pushing and stretching which the crust of Ganymede has undergone through time.

Examination of the surface of Ganymede shows:

  • rifting (like continental rifting of Earth)
  • faults which cut the surface into a leaning stack of "dominoes"
Examination of the surface also shows that the younger areas were "pushed and shoved" differently than the older areas.

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

Last modified February 26, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Grooves of Ganymede

Instead of icy-volcanism, the surface of Ganymede reveals gradual surface deformation and stretching, a stretching similar to the crustal deformation of the Earth. In this case, the folding and stretching...more

Interior of Ganymede

The diagram to the left shows a cutaway of the possible inside structure of Ganymede, based on recent measurements by the Galileo spacecraft. It shows a small core of metal, overlain with some rocky material,...more

Light Terrain of Ganymede

This image shows an example of the light terrain of Ganymede. The image shows the contrast between the light terrain and the dark terrain of Ganymede. The light terrain is where the grooves of Ganymede...more

Surface of Ganymede

The surface of Ganymede is halfway between that of Callisto and that of Europa. Portions of the crust are of ancient age, while other portions are relatively new. The little white dots shown in this image...more


Amalthea was discovered by E Barnard in 1872. Of the 17 moons it is the 3rd closest to Jupiter, with a standoff distance of 181,300 km. Amalthea is about the size of a county or small state, and is just...more


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

Evolution of Callisto

The insides of most of the moons and planets separated while they were forming out of the primitive solar nebula. Measurements by the Galileo spacecraft have been shown that Callisto is the same inside...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA