Fault geometries on uranus' satellite miranda: Implications for internal structure and heat flow

C. B. Beddingfield, D. M. Burr, J. P. Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Miranda, a ~470-km-diameter uranian icy satellite, has a surface that exhibits evidence of a complex tectonic history. Tectonic structures are mostly localized in three regions termed coronae, but also form a rift system inferred to be global in extent. Ridges within the boundary of Arden Corona, and those that make up the 340° Chasma, part of the global rift system, have been interpreted as normal fault blocks. Using Voyager data, we test the hypothesis that these Arden Corona faults, as well as those at the northern edge of the 340° Chasma, are listric in geometry. For this testing, we use four geometric criteria for listric faults: (1) progressive down-dip decrease in fault scarp dip, (2) progressive down-dip increase in back-tilted face slope, (3) concavity of the exposed scarp surface, and (4) presence of a rollover structure. Results of this analysis support the hypothesis that the faults within the Arden Corona boundary are listric in geometry, but do not strongly support the hypothesis for the faults within the 340° Chasma. By analogy with terrestrial structures, the listric character of faults within the Arden Corona boundary suggests the presence of a subsurface detachment. This detachment likely occurred at Miranda's brittle-ductile transition zone at the time of faulting. Measurements of the Arden Corona fault system geometry are used to estimate depths to the proposed brittle-ductile transition zone at the time of faulting, resulting in values of 6.7-9.0km. Those depths in turn are used to estimate a thermal gradient of 6-25Kkm-1 and a surface heat flux of 31-112mWm-2. The weaker evidence of a listric geometry for the faults of the 340° Chasma suggests that those faults did not interact with a brittle-ductile transition at the time of their formation. Our estimated thermal gradient of the Arden Corona region is consistent with a previous heating event on Miranda that was as significant as Europa's current resonance-induced tidal heating. This heating event may be associated with a hypothesized previous tidal resonance of Miranda with Umbriel and/or Ariel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Geological processes
  • Interiors
  • Tectonics
  • Thermal histories
  • Uranus, satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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