Thermal Convection in High-Pressure Ice Layers Beneath a Buried Ocean within Titan and Ganymede

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Gabriel Tobie, Gael Choblet and Matthieu Dumont, LPGN Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes, Nantes Cedex 03, France
Deep interiors of large icy satellites such as Titan and Ganymede probably harbor a buried ocean sandwiched between low pressure ice and high-pressure ice layers. The nature and location of the lower interface of the ocean involves equilibration of heat and melt transfer in the HP ices and is ultimately controlled by the amount heat transferred
through the surface ice Ih layer. Here, we perform 3D simulations of thermal convection, using the OEDIPUS numerical tool (Choblet et al. GJI 2007), to determine the efficiency of heat and mass transfer through these HP ice mantles. In a first series of simulations with no melting, we show that a significant fraction of the HP layer reaches the melting point. Using a simple description of water production and transport, our simulations demonstrate that the melt generation in the outermost part of the HP ice layer and its extraction to the overlying ocean increase the efficiency of heat transfer and reduce strongly the internal temperature. structure and the efficiency of the heat transfer. Scaling relationships are proposed to describe the cooling effect of melt production/extraction and used to investigate the consequences of internal melting on the thermal history of Titan and Ganymede’s interior.