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On the More Complex Wavelength Dependency of Airy Isostasy in Icy Shells of Ocean Worlds
  • Wesley S. Tucker,
  • Andrew J. Dombard
Wesley S. Tucker
University of Illinois Chicago

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Andrew J. Dombard
University of Illinois at Chicago
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The topography of ocean worlds is often used to infer ice shell thicknesses by assuming topography is compensated by a basal root. We systematically test the stability of isostatically compensated topography in ice shells. At short horizontal wavelengths, lithospheric strength can support surface topography, while at long wavelengths, buoyancy forces can support topography at the surface and base of the ice shell over geologic time scales. These behaviors are also seen for Airy isostasy in terrestrial worlds. Contrastingly at intermediate scales, the mechanically weak lower ice shell can inhibit the transfer of buoyancy forces to the surface. Factors such as surface temperature can alter the contribution of lithospheric strength, decreasing the stability of a compensating root. This nuanced understanding of icy shell lithospheres provides crucial insights for interpreting surface features and inferring underlying ice shell thickness, with substantial relevance for upcoming space missions to the Jovian system.
24 Aug 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
11 Sep 2023Published in ESS Open Archive