The persistence of oceans on earth-like planets: Insights from the deep-water cycle

  • Schaefer L
  • Sasselov D
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In this paper we present a series of models for the deep water cycle on super-Earths experiencing plate tectonics. The deep water cycle can be modeled through parameterized convection models coupled with a volatile recycling model. The convection of the silicate mantle is linked to the volatile cycle through the water-dependent viscosity. Important differences in surface water content are found for different parameterizations of convection. Surface oceans are smaller and more persistent for single layer convection, rather than convection by boundary layer instability. Smaller planets have initially larger oceans but also return that water to the mantle more rapidly than larger planets. Super-Earths may therefore be less habitable in their early years than smaller planets, but their habitability (assuming stable surface conditions), will persist much longer.

Author-supplied keywords

  • convection
  • planets and satellites: oceans
  • planets and satellites: tectonics
  • planets and satellites: terrestrial planets

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  • Laura Schaefer

  • Dimitar Sasselov

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