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Journal Articles Icarus Year : 2023

Convective outgassing efficiency in planetary magma oceans: Insights from computational fluid dynamics

Arnaud Salvador
Henri Samuel

Abstract

Planetary atmospheres are commonly thought to result from the efficient outgassing of cooling magma oceans. During this stage, vigorous convective motions in the molten interior are believed to rapidly transport the dissolved volatiles to shallow depths where they exsolve and burst at the surface. This assumption of efficient degassing and atmosphere formation has important implications for both the early and long-term planetary evolution, but has never been tested against fluid dynamics considerations. Yet, during a convective cycle, only a finite fraction of the magma ocean can reach the shallow depths where oversaturated volatiles exsolution can occur, and a large-scale circulation can exist for vigorously convecting fluids in the presence of inertial effects. This can prevent a substantial magma ocean volume from rapidly reaching the planetary surface. Therefore, we conducted computational fluid dynamics experiments of vigorous 2D and 3D Rayleigh-Bénard convection at Prandtl number of unity to characterize the ability of the convecting fluid to reach shallow depths at which volatiles are exsolved and extracted to the atmosphere. We find that the outgassing efficiency is essentially a function of the magnitude of the convective velocities. This allows deriving simple expressions to predict the time evolution of the amount of outgassed volatiles as a function of the magma ocean governing parameters.

We show that for plausible cases, the time required to exsolve all oversaturated water can exceed the magma ocean lifetime in a given highly vigorous transient stage, leading to incomplete or even negligible outgassing. Furthermore, the planet size and the initial magma ocean water content, through the convective vigor and the exsolution depth, respectively, strongly affect magma oceans degassing efficiency, possibly leading to divergent planetary evolution paths and resulting surface conditions. Overall, despite vigorous convection, for a significant range of parameters, convective degassing appears not as efficient as previously thought.

Dates and versions

insu-03839230 , version 1 (04-11-2022)

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Arnaud Salvador, Henri Samuel. Convective outgassing efficiency in planetary magma oceans: Insights from computational fluid dynamics. Icarus, 2023, 390, ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2022.115265⟩. ⟨insu-03839230⟩
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