Ocean Compositions on Europa and Ganymede
Abstract:The ocean compositions of icy Galilean satellites Europa and Ganymede are highly uncertain. Spectral observations of the satellites' surfaces provide clues for the interior composition. Putative sulfate hydration features in Galileo near-infrared reflectance spectra suggest fractionation of Na and Mg sulfates from a subsurface reservoir (McCord et al. 1998, Sci. 278, 271; McCord et al. 1998, Sci. 280, 1242; Dalton et al. 2005, Icarus, 177, 472). Recent spatially resolved spectral mapping of Europa hints at possible partitioning of near-surface brines in Europa's low-lying planes (Shirley et al. 2010; Icarus, 210, 358; Dalton et al. 2012; J. Geophys. Res. 117, E03003). Surface materials can be modified by the delivery of material from impacts and Io's active volcanoes as well as intense irradiation from Jupiter's magnetic field interaction with the jovian magnetosphere. These factors, combined with observations of high Cl/K ratios in Europa's exosphere, have led other investigators to suggest that Europa's ocean is dominated by dissolved chloride rather than sulfate (Brown and Hand 2013; Astr. J. 145, 110). There is still much uncertainty regarding how well the surface composition approximates the interior ocean composition. Exogenic materials, seafloor hydrothermal processes, and fractional crystallization during ice formation will determine the abundances of species in the ocean and by extension those present on Europa's surface.
We develop a bottom-up model for oceans on Europa and Ganymede, assuming initial compositions of chondritic and cometary materials including an Fe core for Europa and an Fe-FeS eutectic core for Ganymede. We calculate an ocean composition by employing a Bulk Silicate Earth approach, also used by Zolotov and Shock (2001; J. Geophys. Res. 106, 32815) at Europa, which assess element partitioning between the rocky mantle, Fe-rich core, and water ocean. Partitioning factors are based on terrestrial estimates for Earth. The resulting ocean composition is used to assess solid precipitation into the ocean and ice shell using FREZCHEM modeling software (Marion et al. 2010; Icarus, 207, 675). These results are then compared with measured compositions of brines on Europa's surface. We develop the model in a way that permits ready application to other icy satellites, such as Titan or Enceladus.