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Sequestration of ethane in the cryovolcanic subsurface of Titan

Abstract : In the years prior to the exploration of Titan's surface by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, the production and condensation of ethane was expected to have formed a satellite-wide ocean 1 km in depth, assuming that it was generated over the solar system's lifetime. However, Cassini-Huygens observations failed to find any evidence of such an ocean. Here we describe the main cause of the ethane deficiency on Titan: cryovolcanic lavas regularly cover its surface, leading to the percolation of the liquid hydrocarbons through this porous material and its accumulation in subsurface layers built up during successive methane outgassing events. The liquid stored in the pores may, combined with the ice layers, form a stable ethane-rich clathrate reservoir, potentially isolated from the surface. Even with a low open porosity of 10% for the subsurface layers, a cryovolcanic icy crust less than 2300 m thick is required to bury all the liquid hydrocarbons generated over the solar system's lifetime
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00389183
Contributor : Béatrice Pibaret-Bourdon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 12:09:09 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 2:34:37 PM

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  • HAL Id : insu-00389183, version 1

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Bernard Schmitt, Olivier Mousis. Sequestration of ethane in the cryovolcanic subsurface of Titan. European Planetary Science Congress 2008, Sep 2008, Münster, Germany. pp.EPSC2008-A-00555. ⟨insu-00389183⟩

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