Subsurface energy storage and transport for solar-powered geysers on triton

Randolph L. Kirk, Robert H. Brown, Laurence A. Soderblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The location of active geyser-like eruptions and related features close to the current subsolar latitude on Triton suggests a solar energy source for these phenomena. Solid-state greenhouse calculations have shown that sunlight can generate substantially elevated subsurface temperatures. A variety of models for the storage of solar energy in a sub-greenhouse layer and for the supply of gas and energy to a geyser are examined. "Leaky greenhouse" models with only vertical gas transport are inconsistent with the observed upper Limit on geyser radius of ∼1.5 kilometers. However, lateral transport of energy by gas flow in a porous N2 layer with a block size on the order of a meter can supply the required amount of gas to a source region ∼1 kilometer in radius. The decline of gas output to steady state may occur over a period comparable with the inferred active geyser lifetime of five Earth years. The required subsurface permeability may be maintained by thermal fracturing of the residual N2 polar cap. A lower limit on geyser source radius of ∼50 to 100 meters predicted by a theory of negatively buoyant jets is not readily attained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-429
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume250
Issue number4977
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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geyser
gas
gas transport
gas flow
energy
volcanic eruption
energy storage
permeability
temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Kirk, R. L., Brown, R. H., & Soderblom, L. A. (1990). Subsurface energy storage and transport for solar-powered geysers on triton. Science, 250(4977), 424-429.

Subsurface energy storage and transport for solar-powered geysers on triton. / Kirk, Randolph L.; Brown, Robert H.; Soderblom, Laurence A.

In: Science, Vol. 250, No. 4977, 1990, p. 424-429.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kirk, RL, Brown, RH & Soderblom, LA 1990, 'Subsurface energy storage and transport for solar-powered geysers on triton', Science, vol. 250, no. 4977, pp. 424-429.
Kirk, Randolph L. ; Brown, Robert H. ; Soderblom, Laurence A. / Subsurface energy storage and transport for solar-powered geysers on triton. In: Science. 1990 ; Vol. 250, No. 4977. pp. 424-429.
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