Article Metrics


Online attention

Laboratory exploration of mineral precipitates from Europa's subsurface ocean

DOI: 10.1107/S1600576721008554 DOI Help

Authors: Stephen P. Thompson (Diamond Light Source) , Hilary Kennedy (Bangor University) , Benjamin M. Butler (The James Hutton Institute) , Sarah J. Day (Diamond Light Source) , Emmal Safi (Diamond Light Source; Keele University) , Aneurin Evans (Keele University)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Journal Of Applied Crystallography , VOL 54

State: Published (Approved)
Published: October 2021
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 10025

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: The precipitation of hydrated phases from a chondrite-like Na–Mg–Ca–SO4–Cl solution is studied using in situ synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction, under rapid- (360 K h−1, T = 250–80 K, t = 3 h) and ultra-slow-freezing (0.3 K day−1, T = 273–245 K, t = 242 days) conditions. The precipitation sequence under slow cooling initially follows the predictions of equilibrium thermodynamics models. However, after ∼50 days at 245 K, the formation of the highly hydrated sulfate phase Na2Mg(SO4)2·16H2O, a relatively recent discovery in the Na2Mg(SO4)2–H2O system, was observed. Rapid freezing, on the other hand, produced an assemblage of multiple phases which formed within a very short timescale (≤4 min, ΔT = 2 K) and, although remaining present throughout, varied in their relative proportions with decreasing temperature. Mirabilite and meridianiite were the major phases, with pentahydrite, epsomite, hydrohalite, gypsum, blödite, konyaite and loweite also observed. Na2Mg(SO4)2·16H2O was again found to be present and increased in proportion relative to other phases as the temperature decreased. The results are discussed in relation to possible implications for life on Europa and application to other icy ocean worlds

Journal Keywords: Europa; icy moons; low-temperature mineral precipitation; ocean worlds; long-duration studies

Subject Areas: Earth Science, Chemistry

Instruments: I11-High Resolution Powder Diffraction

Added On: 01/10/2021 10:42


Discipline Tags:

Earth Sciences & Environment Chemistry Geology Geochemistry Planetary Geology

Technical Tags:

Diffraction X-ray Powder Diffraction