Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, is an icy world that astronomers believe hides a liquid ocean beneath its surface. That fractured surface, which jumbles old and new features together, has long hinted at a complex history astronomers have sought to understand.
Now, a new study to be published in print November 15 in Icarus shows that Ganymede has undergone periods of tectonic processes much like those seen on Earth, bringing to light some of the moon’s tumultuous past.
Researchers at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology discovered evidence on Ganymede of strike-slip tectonics, which cause faults with sides that “slip” horizontally relative to each other. On Earth, such faults are occasionally found at the boundaries between ocean and continental plates; one of the most famous is the San Andreas fault in California.