publication 22-October-2017 14:03:47

Possible evidence for a methane source in Enceladus' Ocean

Publication date: 26 February 2015

Authors: Bouquet, A., et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 42
Year: 2015

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

Published online 2 February 2015

The internal ocean of Enceladus can be expected to present conditions favorable to the trapping of volatiles in clathrates. This process could influence the eventual composition of the ocean and therefore of the plumes emitted by the south polar region. Here we used a statistical thermodynamic model to assess which species detected in the plumes by the Cassini-INMS experiment are trapped in clathrates. We treated Enceladus' internal ocean as a terrestrial subglacial lake with a mixture of dissolved volatiles indicated by plume gas measurements. We find that the conditions for clathrate formation are met in this ocean, except above 20‚ÄČkm or in hypothetical hot spots. The formation of multiple guest clathrates depletes methane below plume levels, suggesting that clathrates eventually dissociate (releasing methane) in the fissure that connects the ocean to the surface or that another mechanism (such as hydrothermal reactions) is compensating by adding methane into the ocean.

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Last Update: 11 March 2015

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