A SHALLOW SUBSURFACE HYDROLOGIC SYSTEM ON EUROPA?
We used COMSOL to model the present-day hydraulic conditions that would occur at both Thrace and Thera Macula were a subsurface water volume to exist. We use Galileo data to provide the approximate heights of the high and low-lying terrain, and the water depths, volumes, and ice properties described by Schmidt et al. (2011) to calculate the models.
These analyses show evidence for shallow water mobility within Europa’s crust, which bolsters the case for a presently active Europa with abundant shallow water. Using our models we place constraints on water flow and the material properties of the ice. We show that this system is governed by surface topography that determines subsurface hydraulic potential and that may create subsurface pathways for hydraulic connectivity between shallow environments. Our results imply that the habitability of Europa may be coupled to subsurface hydrological systems that can be characterized by future ice penetrating radar exploration of Europa.