Is ASPECT the right tool for my Europa problem?

I’m an associate professor at UChicago, currently a non-user, writing with a question about ASPECT capabilities. For Europa, Culha et al JGR 2014 propose that surface area is consumed at double ridges. I hypothesize that this is due to melt-back or freeze-on at long-lived, vertical, nearly-filled-with-water slots within the ice shell (concept of Kite & Rubin PNAS 2016, for Europa). In order to generate predictions of this model for comparison to Europa Clipper observables, my goal is to calculate the stresses and faulting measurable at the surface as the result of the stress pattern caused by freeze-on or melt-back at the side-walls of a vertical long-lived water-filled slot. If I impose avertically-varying compressive stress at the vertical sidewalls of
the domain, the material will deform, and in general the sidewalls
will become non-vertical by the next timestep. Can ASPECT add or
remove particles/cells at the sidewalls so that the sidewalls stay
vertical throughout the simulation? Is there another community tool that is better suited for this purpose?
Thank you, - Edwin

Hi Edwin,

Welcome and thanks for posting to the ASPECT forum!

Without fully understanding the details of the specific problem (i.e., melt-back or freeze-on …), what you propose is certainly feasibly with ASPECT:

  1. Imposing a vertically varying horizontal stress (pressure) along vertical side walls
  2. Have particles leave and enter the domain with sidewalls staying vertical (you can also use fields).

Is there another community tool that is better suited for this purpose?
I imagine there a few geodynamic codes that can do this in 2D/3D cartesian, which have similar underlying physics as ASPECT and some of the same features (particle-in-cell method, highly parallel, good nonlinear solvers, etc).

I think the choice on what code is best to use may come down to the details of the physics and features you need to include (compressibility? two-phase reactive flow? adaptive mesh refinement? spherical domain?)

For reference, I know of (and am helping) one other group using ASPECT for problems related to Europa, but the questions being tested are of course different from yours. The point being that there is some work going into using ASPECT from problems related to convection and faulting on Europa.

I hope this was helpful and happy to discuss further!


Hi Edwin,

What was your final decision on ASPECT vs other software? We have our annual hackathon July 6th-15th, which might be a good opportunity for you (or a student of yours) to make desired modifications and additions to the code.

Best wishes,

Link to register: