Tidally Induced Magmatic Pulses on the Oceanic Floor of Jupiter's Moon Europa

Research areas:
Year:
2021
Keywords:
Europa, mantle, numerical modeling, thermal evolution, tidal heating
Authors:
Journal:
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume:
48
Number:
3
Pages:
e2020GL090077
BibTex:
Note:
e2020GL090077 2020GL090077
Abstract:
Abstract The habitability of Europa's subsurface ocean is conditioned by heat released from the deep interior and by intensity of magmatic activity. Here, we investigate the melting of the silicate mantle through time and its consequences for seafloor magmatism by modeling Europa's internal heat production and transfer using a three-dimensional numerical model. We show that melt can be produced during most of Europa's history due to the limited efficiency of internal cooling by thermal convection and the presence of radiogenic heating. The melting rate is amplified by tidal friction, possibly leading to magmatic pulses during enhanced eccentricity periods and focusing melting to high latitudes. The volume of generated melts during magmatic episodes is comparable to those involved in Large Igneous Provinces, commonly observed on Earth, and may impact ocean chemistry. We predict that gravity measurements, detection of anomalous H2/CH4, and astrometric data by future missions could confirm ongoing large-scale seafloor activity.