Resurfacing Saturn's Satellites: Models Of Partial Differentiation And Expansion
Consolmagno, Guy J.
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The faulting seen on the surfaces of Saturn's icy moons may have been caused either by external events, such as large impacts, or internal stresses caused by the expansion of the moons as long-lived radionuclides produced internal heating and phase changes. We estimate the stress as a function of radius expansion is σ = 44 (Δr/r) kbar. The extensional stress needed for fracture is probably something less than 40 bar so extensional fracture is likely to occur when Δr/r is greater than one part in a thousand. The radius change for these moons can be calculated analytically, given suitable assumptions; in addition, detailed time-dependent computer models of the thermal and physical evolution of Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus were carried out. From these calculations we conclude that the most reasonable cause for rifting on Dione and Rhea is the refreezing of an ammonia-water eutectic melt inside these moons roughly two billion years after their formation, while the rift on Tethys was caused by a large impact, and little rifting should be expected on Iapetus.