EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

3D geologic model of Uruk Sulcus region on Ganymede

Riccardo Pozzobon1, Costanza Rossi1, Alice Lucchetti1, Matteo Massironi2, Maurizio Pajola1, Luca Penasa1, and Giovanni Munaretto1
Riccardo Pozzobon et al.
  • 1INAF, OAPD, Padova, Italy (
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Padova

The surface of Ganymede, the largest satellite of Jupiter, consists of a strongly deformed and tectonized  brittle icy crust which stands on top of a large liquid body, possibly a global subsurface ocean. In fact, by means of multiple Galileo orbital mission flybys both geophysical and structural geology measurements constrained the average icy shell thickness to be comprised between 100 and 150 km. The surface can also be divided into two main units: bright and dark terrains depending on their relative albedo, impact crated density and tectonization. Furrows and grooves represent most of the structures on Ganymede’s surface, which are essentially extensional faults, dilatant structures and strike slip faults. We hereby present a 3D geologic modelling of the region of Uruk Sulcus based on structural mapping (Rossi et al., 2020) and using techniques borrowed from oil and gas exploration.

The Uruk Sulcus area is a NW-SE bright terrain of  ~400 km by ~2500 km size located between 150W-180W and 30N-10S, and characterized by pervasive sets of parallel/sub-parallel grooves of 10s-to-100s km length. The most favored hypotheses relate its formation either to a purely extensional context forming a tilt-block normal faulting, or to crustal necking with creation of horsts and grabens, or to be the result of a major dextral transpression. The overall structural framework and the fault geometries (in the form of 3D meshes) was created according to existing literature and with geologic interpretation and anchored on the surface to the global DEM by Zubarev et al., (2017), and at depth to the brittle ice-subsurface ocean interface to an average value of 120 km. This ice thickness value was obtained, among other methods, also by analyzing the scaling laws ruling the spatial distribution and the length size distribution of grooves and extensional structures, which proved to be fractal. One of the implications of this fractal behavior is that the structures themselves can be interconnected forming a percolating network favoring fluid circulation and connecting the subsurface ocean with the surface (see Lucchetti et al., 2020 and references therein).

By means of 3D modelling, we were able to isolate volumes of ice encompassed by major strike-slip structures of Uruk Sulcus and to exploit the scaling laws ruling the structures within such areas, in order to numerically simulate a DFN (digital fracture network) crosscutting the entire volume of ice.

This way we could analyze the volume of ice crosscut by such fracture network, and to predict the locations at surface where percolation is favored.


Acknowledgments: The activity has been realized under the ASI-INAF contract 2018-25-HH.0.

How to cite: Pozzobon, R., Rossi, C., Lucchetti, A., Massironi, M., Pajola, M., Penasa, L., and Munaretto, G.: 3D geologic model of Uruk Sulcus region on Ganymede, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11526,, 2022.