Smooth and bumpy terrain on Triton

Smooth and bumpy terrain on Triton

Fig. 11.15 . Smooth volcanic plains, created by ice volcanoes on Triton, form the flat, frozen surfaces of ice lakes (left), most likely filled with water ice and perhaps coated with deposits of nitrogen ice. The absence of any impact craters indicates that the surface is relatively young. The rugged terrrain (right foreground) is Tritonís cantaloupe terrain, a network of interfering, closely spaced dimples or depressions termed cavi, each 25 to 35 kilometers across. They are also of internal origin, but not due to volcanic flow. The cantaloupe terrain is explained by a gravitational instability in which less dense material rises through overlying dense material, overturning the icy crust. The rising blobs of ice are known as diapirs. (Courtesy of NSA/JPL.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University