Fatigue can cause materials that undergo cyclic loading to experience brittle failure at much lower stresses than under monotonic loading. We propose that the lithospheres of icy satellites could become fatigued and thus weakened by cyclical tidal stresses. To test this hypothesis, we performed a series of laboratory experiments to measure the fatigue of water ice at temperatures of 198 K and 233 K and at a loading frequency of 1 Hz. We find that ice is not susceptible to fatigue at our experimental conditions and that the brittle failure stress does not decrease with increasing number of loading cycles. Even though fatigue was not observed at our experimental conditions, colder temperatures, lower loading frequencies, and impurities in the ice shells of icy satellites may increase the likelihood of fatigue crack growth. We also explore other mechanisms that may explain the weak behavior of the lithospheres of some icy satellites.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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