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SPS Seminar - Freezing-induced chemical fractionation during cryovolcanism at Enceladus and other ocean worlds

Dates
Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 14:00 to 15:00

When:  Thursday 22nd October at 14.00

Where:  Microsoft Teams - Online

Speaker:  Dr Mark Fox-Powell – The Open University

Hosted by:  Jack Wright

 

Abstract:

The large cryovolcanic plumes emanating from Saturn’s ice-covered moon Enceladus represent perhaps our best opportunity to learn about a potentially habitable ocean beyond Earth. Salt-rich icy particles in the plumes are thought to originate as rapidly frozen droplets of ocean spray, thus capturing a snapshot of ocean chemistry. However, the processes involved in forming them are not well understood. I will present parallel experimental and modelling results exploring the provenance of these salt-rich ices, showing how the composition and micro-scale partitioning of solid phases can be used to probe parent fluid pH and cooling rate dynamics deep in the subsurface. I will also discuss implications of these results for cryovolcanic systems at other ocean worlds and the possibility for microbial biosignatures to become incorporated and delivered to space where they could be encountered by spacecraft.

 

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