Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Cruz

Elastic thickness and heat flux estimates for the uranian satellite Ariel

  • Author(s): Peterson, G.
  • Nimmo, F.
  • Schenk, P.
  • et al.

The surface of Ariel, an icy satellite orbiting Uranus, shows extensional tectonic features suggesting an episode of endogenic heating in the satellite's past. Using topography derived from stereo-photoclinometry, we identified flexural uplift at a rift zone suggesting elastic thickness values in the range 3.8-4.4 km. We estimate the temperature at the base of the lithosphere to be in the range 99 to 146 K, depending on the strain rate assumed, with corresponding heat fluxes of 28-92 mW/m2. Neither tidal heating, assuming Ariel's current eccentricity, nor radiogenic heat production from the silicate core are enough to cause the inferred heat fluxes. None of three proposed ancient mean-motion resonances produce equilibrium tidal heating values in excess of 4.3 mW/m2. Thus, the origin of the inferred high heat fluxes is currently mysterious.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View