Enceladus's Crust As A Non-uniform Thin Shell: II Tidal Dissipation

By Keith Cowing
March 6, 2019
Filed under
Enceladus's Crust As A Non-uniform Thin Shell: II Tidal Dissipation

Tidal heating is the prime suspect behind Enceladus’s south polar heating anomaly and global subsurface ocean. No model of internal tidal dissipation, however, can explain at the same time the total heat budget and the focusing of the energy at the south pole.

I study here whether the non-uniform icy shell thickness can cause the north-south heating asymmetry by redistributing tidal heating either in the shell or in the core. Starting from the non-uniform tidal thin shell equations, I compute the volumetric rate, surface flux, and total power generated by tidal dissipation in shell and core. If the shell is laterally uniform, the thin shell approach predicts shell dissipation with a few percent error while the error on core dissipation is negligible. Variations in shell thickness strongly increase the shell dissipation flux where the shell is thinner. For a hard shell with long-wavelength variations, the shell dissipation flux can be predicted by scaling with the inverse local thickness the flux for a laterally uniform shell.

If Enceladus’s shell is in conductive thermal equilibrium with isostatic thickness variations, the nominal shell dissipation flux at the south pole is about three times its value for a shell of uniform thickness, which remains negligible compared to the observed flux. The shell dissipation rate should be ten times higher than nominal in order to account for the spatial variations of the observed flux. Dissipation in an unconsolidated core can provide the missing power, but does not generate any significant heating asymmetry as long as the core is homogeneous. Non-steady state models, though not investigated here, face similar difficulties in explaining the asymmetries of tidal heating and shell thickness.

Mikael Beuthe
(Submitted on 6 Mar 2019)

Comments: 56 pages, 16 figures, 9 tables. Submitted to Icarus
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1903.02520 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1903.02520v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Mikael Beuthe
[v1] Wed, 6 Mar 2019 17:59:15 UTC (5,925 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻