Ruiz Pérez, Javier and Montoya, Lilia and López, Valle and Amils, Ricardo (2007) Thermal Diapirism and the Habitability of the Icy Shell of Europa. Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, 37 . pp. 287-295. ISSN 0169-6149
Official URL: http://springerlink.com/content/102974
Europa’s chaos and lenticulae features may have originated by thermal diapirs related to convective plumes. Warm ice plumes could be habitable, since their temperature is close to the ice melting temperature. Moreover, thermal plumes intruding into the lower stagnant lid warm several kilometers of country ice above 230 K for periods of 105 years, and hundreds of meters above 240 K for periods of 104 years. Diapir coalescence generating chaos areas should provide a large zone with temperature above ∼240 K for thousands of years. A temperature above ∼230 K is potentially interesting for astrobiology, since it corresponds to the lowest temperature at which microbial metabolic activity in Antarctic ice has been reported. So, the warming by thermal plumes could cause an aureole of biological activation/reactivation in the country ice. Adaptation of life to either high salinity or low temperature is similar: it requires the synthesis of compatible solutes, like trehalose or glycerol, which are efficient cryoprotectants. We therefore propose that the future astrobiological exploration of Europa should include the search for compatible solutes in chaos and lenticulae features.
|Additional Information:||The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com|
|Subjects:||Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics|
|Deposited On:||23 Apr 2010 11:05|
|Last Modified:||06 Feb 2014 08:44|
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