Unified model of tectonics and heat transport in a frigid Enceladus

Gustavo Gioia, Pinaki Chakraborty, Stephen Marshak, Susan W. Kieffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent data from the Cassini spacecraft have revealed that Enceladus, the 500-km-diameter moon of Saturn, has a southern hemisphere with a distinct arrangement of tectonic features, intense heat flux, and geyser-like plumes. How did the tectonic features form? How is the heat transported from depth? To address these questions, we formulate a simple model that couples the mechanics and thermodynamics of Enceladus and gives a unified explanation of the salient tectonic features, the plumes, and the transport of heat from a source at a depth of tens of kilometers to the surface. Our findings imply that tiny, icy moons can develop complex surficial geomorphologies, high heat fluxes, and geyserlike activity even if they do not have hot, liquid, and/or convecting interiors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13578-13581
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 21 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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