Abstract The bands of bright resurfaced terrain on Ganymede are probably broad grabens formed by global expansion and filled with deposits of ice. Grooves within the bands are thought to be extensional features formed during the same episode of expansion. The crust of Ganymede is modeled as a viscoelastic material subjected to extensional strain. With sufficiently high strain rates and stresses, deep normal faulting will occur, creating broad grabens that may then be filled. Continuing deformation at high strain rates and stresses will cause propagation of deep faults up into the flood deposits and normal faulting at the surface, while lower strain rates and stresses will cause formation of open extension fractures or, if the crustal strength is very low, grabens at the surface. The spacing between adjacent fractures may reflect the geothermal gradient at the time of deformation. Surface topography resulting from fracturing and normal faulting will decay with time as a result of viscous relaxation and mass-wasting.