A model for the temperature-dependence of tidal dissipation in convective plumes on icy satellites: Implications for Europa and Enceladus

Giuseppe Mitri, Adam P. Showman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

To explain the formation of surface features on Europa, Enceladus, and other satellites, many authors have postulated the spatial localization of tidal heating within convective plumes. However, the concept that enhanced tidal heating can occur within a convective plume has not been rigorously tested. Most models of this phenomenon adopt a tidal heating with a temperature-dependence derived for an incompressible, homogeneous (zero-dimensional) Maxwell material, but it is unclear whether this formulation is relevant to the heterogeneous situation of a warm plume surrounded by cold ice. To determine whether concentrated dissipation can occur in convective plumes, we develop a two-dimensional model to compute the volumetric dissipation rate for an idealized, vertically oriented, isolated convective plume obeying a Maxwellian viscoelastic compressible rheology. We apply the model to the Europa and Enceladus ice shells, and we investigate the consequences for partial melting and resurfacing processes on these bodies. We find that the tidal heating is strongly temperature dependent in a convective ice plume and could produce elevated temperatures and local partial melting in the ice shells of Europa and Enceladus. Our calculation provides the first quantitative verification of the hypothesis by Sotin et al. [Sotin, C., Head, J.W., Tobie, G., 2002. Geophys. Res. Lett. 29. 74-1] and others that the tidal dissipation rate is a strong function of temperature inside a convective plume. On Europa, such localized heating could help allow the formation of domes and chaos terrains by convection. On Enceladus, localized tidal heating in a thermal plume could explain the concentrated activity at the south pole and its associated heat transport of 2-7 GW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-764
Number of pages7
JournalIcarus
Volume195
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

Keywords

  • Enceladus
  • Europa
  • Geophysics
  • Ices
  • Interiors
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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