The icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa may have plate tectonics similar to those on Earth, which may have important implications for the possibility of life in the ocean beneath the moon’s surface, scientists say. The presence of plate tectonic activity could have important implications for the possibility of life in the ocean thought to exist beneath the moon’s surface.
The possibility of subduction adds another piece to the tectonic puzzle. “We have this evidence of extension and spreading, so the question becomes where does that material go?” said Brandon Johnson, from the Brown University in the US. “On Earth, the answer is subduction zones. What we show is that under reasonable assumptions for conditions on Europa, subduction could be happening there as well, which is really exciting.
Subduction provides a means for that food to come into contact with the subsurface ocean scientists think probably exists under Europa’s ice. If indeed there’s life in that ocean, subduction offers a way to supply the nutrients it would need.