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Volcanism and igneous processes in small icy satellites

Stevenson, D. J. (1982) Volcanism and igneous processes in small icy satellites. Nature, 298 (5870). pp. 142-144. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/298142a0.

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The small saturnian satellites exhibit a remarkable diversity of surficial features including many which appear to be a consequence of internal activity: 'wispy' terrain, linear troughs, and terrains displaying large gradations in crater density. I argue here that the most likely cause of endogenic processes in these bodies is the igneous activity associated with a low melting point NH_3–H_2O magma, a possibility first pointed out by Lewis. Radiogenic heating probably suffices to provide the necessary melting in Tethys, Dione, Rhea and lapetus whereas tidal heating is needed for Enceladus and possibly Mimas. Migration of large fluid-filled cracks is likely (as in Weertman's theory for water-filled crevasses in glaciers), leading to surface flooding. If clathrates are present, as first suggested by Miller, then pyroclast-forming explosive events can occur at a near-surface intrusive contact between magma and one or more of the methane, nitrogen and argon clathrates.

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Stevenson, D. J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 1982 Macmillan Journals Ltd. Received 1 March; accepted 10 May 1982. I thank A. Anderson for collaboration in the early phases of this work, J. I. Lunine, Q. Passey for comments, and S. L. Miller for useful conversations. This work is supported by NASA grant NAGW-185.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
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Issue or Number:5870
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140311-105706287
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44243
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:11 Mar 2014 21:21
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:49

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