Distribution of chaotic terrain on Europa

Jeannemarie Riley, Gregory V. Hoppa, Richard J. Greenberg, B. Randall Tufts, Paul Geissler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


The locations of chaotic terrain are mapped over all regions of Europa for which we have adequate resolution (∼200 m or better) and appropriate lighting geometry (Sun angle <35° from the local horizontal), comprising 9% of the total surface of the satellite. Nearly 30% of the mapped area is occupied by chaotic terrain recognizable at 200 m resolution, and sampling at higher resolution suggests that at least 10% more may be covered by small chaos features. The largest contiguous area of chaotic terrain is ∼1300 km across. Chaotic terrain displays variations in freshness of appearance, probably because of aging by fine-scale tectonics. Resurfacing of previous chaotic terrain by larger-scale tectonics or disruption by newer chaos are common. Chaos formation is not necessarily recent relative to tectonics; both types of process appear to have gone on diachronously. The size distribution shows no dominant or characteristic size and appears to have been controlled by competition from tectonics, which has created terrain that occupies more than half of the surface of Europa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22599-22615
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberE9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 25 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Riley, J., Hoppa, G. V., Greenberg, R. J., Tufts, B. R., & Geissler, P. (2000). Distribution of chaotic terrain on Europa. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 105(E9), 22599-22615.