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Modelling Ice Grain Metamorphism for Multiphysics Ice Simulations of Galilean Moons

Presentation #103.07 in the session Fire and Ice: Io and Beyond (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Modelling Ice Grain Metamorphism for Multiphysics Ice Simulations of Galilean Moons

Water ice, an abundant element present on the Galilean moons, has a microstructure shaped by a complex interplay of coupled multi-physics processes. Among them, ice metamorphism transports material from ice grains into their neck region, resulting in changes in the mechanical and thermal properties of the ice. Understanding metamorphism is essential to investigate the properties and microstructure of ice. While the metamorphism process of snow on Earth has been extensively studied, there is a scarce amount of information regarding the alteration of ice in planetary surface environments characterized by low temperatures and pressures.

In this study, we propose a refined mathematical formulation of the diffusion transport process. Our proposed approach provides an accurate description of the matter exchange between grains, bonds, and the pore space. By running the numerical model, we can simulate the evolution of ice microstructure on Galilean satellites, specifically tracking the changes in the ice grain and neck radii over time.

To comprehensively investigate the evolution of Europa’s icy surface, we are running multiphysics simulations that incorporate the metamorphism model, coupled with a stable multilayered heat transfer solver, MultIHeaTS, and an ice compaction model. The metamorphism process is highly dependent on temperature, and this study represents the first attempt to examine the coupled interaction between heat transfer and metamorphism, further complemented by the inclusion of a compaction model for porosity.

Accurately simulating these highly coupled processes, such as metamorphism, provides valuable insights into the evolution of Europa’s ice microstructure. These insights, in turn, contribute to the refinement of surface measurements like spectroscopy, enabling improved constraints on grain size. Such advancements play a crucial role in accurately determining the microstructure and quantitative composition of Europa’s surface, a key objective for upcoming missions such as JUICE and Europa Clipper.

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