Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 97, Issue 1–2, pp 79–90 | Cite as

Seas under ice: Stability of liquid-water oceans within icy worlds

  • Javier RuizEmail author
  • Alberto G. Fairén


The present-day existence of internal oceans under the outer ice shell of several icy satellites of the Solar System has been recently proposed. The presence of antifreeze substances decreasing ice’s melting point (and tidal heating in Europa’s case) has been generally believed to allow the stability of such oceans; limited cooling of the water (ice plus liquid) layer, due to stability against convection or to stagnant lid convection in the icy shell, have been also considered. Here we propose that even pure liquid-water oceans could survive today within several icy worlds, and we consider some factors affecting thermal modeling in these bodies. So, the existence of such oceans would be a natural consequence of the physical properties of water ice, independently from the addition of antifreeze substances or any other special conditions. The inclusion of these substances would contribute to expand the conditions for water to stay liquid and to increase ocean’s volume.


icy bodies internal oceans solid-state convection water ice thermal conductivity water ice viscosity 


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We thank thorough revision by an anonymous referee, which greatly contributed to put into shape this work. We also thank Heather Hava for assistance with manuscript. JR work was supported from a grant of the Spanish Secretaría de Estado de Educación y Universidades.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Geodinámica, Facultad de Ciencias GeológicasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Biología MolecularCSIC-Universidad Autónoma de MadridCantoblanco, MadridSpain

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