Origin of ice diapirism, true polar wander, subsurface ocean, and tiger stripes of Enceladus driven by compositional convection

David Robert Stegman, Justin Colin Freeman, David Alexander May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We consider the scenario in which the presence of ammonia in the bulk composition of Enceladus plays a pivotal role in its thermochemical evolution. Because ammonia reduces the melting temperature of the ice shell by 100 K below that of pure water ice, small amounts of tidal dissipation can power an a??ammonia feedbacka?? mechanism that leads to secondary differentiation of Enceladus within the ice shell. This leads to compositionally distinct zones at the base of the ice shell arranged such that a layer of lower density (and compositionally buoyant) pure water ice underlies the undifferentiated ammonia-dihydrate ice layer above. We then consider a large scale instability arising from the pure water ice layer, and use a numerical model to explore the dynamics of compositional convection within the ice shell of Enceladus. The instability of the layer can easily account for a diapir that is hemispherical in scale. As it rises to the surface, it co-advects the warm internal temperatures towards the outer layers of the satellite. This advected heat facilitates the generation of a subsurface ocean within the ice shell of Enceladus. This scenario can simultaneously account for the origin of asymmetry in surface deformation observed on Enceladus as well as two global features inferred to exist: a large density anomaly within the interior and a subsurface ocean underneath the south polar region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669 - 680
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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