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Divergent behavior of hydrothermal plumes in fresh versus salty icy ocean worlds
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  • Suyash Bire,
  • Tushar Mittal,
  • Wanying Kang,
  • Ali Ramadhan,
  • Philip Tuckman,
  • Christopher R German,
  • Andreas M. Thurnherr,
  • John C Marshall
Suyash Bire
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Corresponding Author:bire@mit.edu

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Tushar Mittal
Pennsylvania State University
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Wanying Kang
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Ali Ramadhan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Philip Tuckman
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Christopher R German
Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution
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Andreas M. Thurnherr
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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John C Marshall
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Water parcels close to their freezing point contract and become heavy on warming if they are sufficiently fresh, but expand and become buoyant when salty. We explore the resulting divergent behavior of hydrothermal plumes in fresh verses salty icy ocean worlds, with particular emphasis on Enceladus and Europa. Salty oceans develop buoyant plumes which rise upwards in the water column when energized by localised hydrothermal vents. Fresh oceans, instead, develop bottom-hugging gravity currents when heated near the freezing point, because of the anomalous contraction of fluid parcels on warming. The contrasting dynamics are highlighted and the implications discussed.
10 Jan 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
17 Jan 2023Published in ESS Open Archive