Ref: SCART-2019-0112

Enceladus's crust as a non-uniform thin shell: I tidal deformations

Beuthe, Mikael

published in Icarus, 302, pp. 145-174 (2018)

Abstract: The geologic activity at Enceladus's south pole remains unexplained, though tidal deformations are probably the ultimate cause. Recent gravity and libration data indicate that Enceladus's icy crust floats on a global ocean, is rather thin, and has a strongly non-uniform thickness. Tidal effects are enhanced by crustal thinning at the south pole, so that realistic models of tidal tectonics and dissipation should take into account the lateral variations of shell structure. I construct here the theory of non-uniform viscoelastic thin shells, allowing for depth-dependent rheology and large lateral variations of shell thickness and rheology. Coupling to tides yields two 2D linear partial differential equations of the fourth order on the sphere which take into account self-gravity, density stratification below the shell, and core viscoelasticity. If the shell is laterally uniform, the solution agrees with analytical formulas for tidal Love numbers; errors on displacements and stresses are less than 5% and 15%, respectively, if the thickness is less than 10% of the radius. If the shell is non-uniform, the tidal thin shell equations are solved as a system of coupled linear equations in a spherical harmonic basis. Compared to finite element models, thin shell predictions are similar for the deformations due to Enceladus's pressurized ocean, but differ for the tides of Ganymede. If Enceladus's shell is conductive with isostatic thickness variations, surface stresses are approximately inversely proportional to the local shell thickness. The radial tide is only moderately enhanced at the south pole. The combination of crustal thinning and convection below the poles can amplify south polar stresses by a factor of 10, but it cannot explain the apparent time lag between the maximum plume brightness and the opening of tiger stripes. In a second paper, I will study the impact of a non-uniform crust on tidal dissipation.

DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.11.009
Links: link
Funding: PRODEX/4000120791/PlanetInterior

The record appears in these collections:
Royal Observatory of Belgium > Reference Systems & Planetology
Science Articles > Peer Reviewed Articles

 Record created 2019-01-30, last modified 2019-01-30