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Ohoopee
05-17-2014, 05:44 PM
So I am working on an idea for a new short story and it has led me to researching cryovolcanos. I have been reading quit a bit about what is theorized about them. I don't think we have observed one directly but have found evidence that they exist on say Saturn's Moon Titan.

But there is still something that I haven't quit figured out fr sure and I would love some help if anyone has any ideas.

Firstly, even though Cryovolcanos doesn't erupt molten rock, I am still assuming that some amount of heat must be involved. I have read that scientists believe that the heat generated is caused by Tidal Friction but might also be caused by deposits of translucent materials creating a small Greenhouse effect under the ice.

But my question is, exactly how hot would a cryovolcano be? We know it must be hot enough to melt ice but that really isn't telling me much. I am wondering if humans could build a habitat in a cyrovolcano on one of these cold worlds and it produce enough heat to keep them warm? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

BDSEmpire
05-17-2014, 09:18 PM
According to Wikipedia the places these objects exist are totally inimical to human life. They are *cold*. Life-destroying cold.

It's your story, feel free to put people near one of these but they will have to be in an environmental suit of some kind to walk around and live in pressurized dome structures or some other thing to support human life. This isn't t-shirt and shorts weather.

They would be cool to look at from the comfort and safety of your spaceship but they don't support human life in any meaningful way. The temperatures these things exist at are still horribly cold (-60F and lower), not to mention they often don't have much atmosphere and it's probably not going to be our lovely oxygen/nitrogen mix. Worse, most of the substances these things apparently kick out are nasty to breath so you would die from: cold, horrible toxic gas, lack of breathable air, lack of Earth-like pressures, ennui from being so far out in space.

It's a mess. Hope that helps!

Friendly Frog
05-17-2014, 10:11 PM
But my question is, exactly how hot would a cryovolcano be? We know it must be hot enough to melt ice but that really isn't telling me much. I am wondering if humans could build a habitat in a cyrovolcano on one of these cold worlds and it produce enough heat to keep them warm? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
If cryovolcanoes have any heat, it will probably be far below the surface. I'm not an expert, but the thing with cryovolcanoes is that they're cold or in extremely cold environments. (Ammonia for instance, is liquid at some stage below zero, no heat required, if I recall correctly.)

I see you've found the wikipedia article on cryovolcanoes, which is rather sparse indeed but if you click a little further (cryovolcanism on Encyladus) you can see some (surface) temperatures mentioned for this specific case. They appear to be rather low for what you want to do, so you may have to look at other energies than just heat. (Pressure could be useful in that aspect.) An other solution would be to abandon the surface and move deep below. Chances for access to heat and liquid water can be drastically improved there.

Interesting subject. Good luck with it.

Ohoopee
05-18-2014, 03:33 AM
I appreciate the replies. Yeah, I am not talking about a perminent settlement here, I am talking about a place where people come, stay a month or two and then go and new team comes in...sort of like a scientific outpost. I was reading about an extinct cryovolcano that scientists believe they have found on Titan. The thing about Titan is it actually does have a fairly substantial atmosphere and based on my research, I do not believe a pressure suite would be required, but regardless...yeah...you would need an oxygen supply as well not to mention protection from that extreme cold. I get all of that. Basically, it really could work with what I am doing to put the base underground, in fact I kind of envisioned it being built into of one of these extinct or semi-extinct cryovolcanos. I thought there might be someway that the inhabitants of his outpost might could be using the energies that created the cryovolcano to their advantage.

I think that heating a habitat, even underground on Titan would take a tremendous amount of Energy being how cold it is which is why I thought about this as a possibility. I honestly never could figure out what temperatures were like under the ice to cause a cryovolcano. Most articles I have read seem to agree that some amount of heat is required...I just have never found what kind of heat...it might not be much heat at all in which case this idea wouldn't work....

Hmm, I wonder. Titan is known for it's Liquid Methane Rain and Lakes of Liquid Methane...maybe this could be used as a fuel for heating? But then again, looking at this realistically I don't think the government would allow a compound or settlement to use Titans Liquid Methane. Maybe I am wrong but I think there would be a lot of people upset about us tampering with Titan environment. I have already heard people mention that we may be seeding Mars with Microorganisms with all the probes and rovers we have sent..

Just some things going through my mind. I want my story to take place in a pretty extreme environment. I know I can pretty much do what ever I want as the author regardless of whether it makes sense scientifically or not (ie Star Wars) but I am a huge fan of realistic science fiction and would like for my story to be at the very least plausible.

I wonder if there is a why to ask NASA?

Edit:

I contacted NASA on their website contact form and asked this question...not sure when or if I will get a response. According to the below website "A cryovolcano produces plumes that may be a hundred or more degrees hotter than the frozen surface matter." Of course if say on Titan, the cyromagma is 100 degree F. hotter than the surface, it is still going to be about 100 degree F. below Zero....so I am still not sure if this will work.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-cryovolcano.htm

TheNighSwan
05-18-2014, 10:21 AM
Volcanism is caused by pressure and temperature differences; depending on the substance, there's no requirement for significant "heat" (in the sense of "hot for us"). As mentionned before, ammonia is liquid between -78C/-108F and -33C/-28F.

So, say, if you've got underground ammonia at -50C under pressure, and the surface temperature is -179C (as on Titan), this difference will be enough to trigger volcanic phenomena.

This can even work with water in some case; pure water freezes at 0C under normal atmospheric pressure; but if the water contains impurities and the pressure is higher, you can potentially have much colder liquid water.

Friendly Frog
05-19-2014, 02:21 AM
Basically, it really could work with what I am doing to put the base underground, in fact I kind of envisioned it being built into of one of these extinct or semi-extinct cryovolcanos. I thought there might be someway that the inhabitants of his outpost might could be using the energies that created the cryovolcano to their advantage.
Not sure if an extinct cyrovolcano is of any use heat-wise. Unless you're using it only as a means of access to lower levels. (Could save your scientists a lot of drilling.) But there will not be a hot magma-chamber like in ordinary volcanoes.


Hmm, I wonder. Titan is known for it's Liquid Methane Rain and Lakes of Liquid Methane...maybe this could be used as a fuel for heating? Possible, but I daresay you'd need oxygen for the combustion and I don't think Titan has any. In which case it would have to be imported or manufactured.


Maybe I am wrong but I think there would be a lot of people upset about us tampering with Titan environment. I have already heard people mention that we may be seeding Mars with Microorganisms with all the probes and rovers we have sent..True, but it's your story. The exploration of Titan and the establishing of outposts doesn't need to happen by NASA, or a NASA as we know it today. You can always adapt to what you think your story needs. You can even have Titan in the process of being terraformed, that could solve some of your problems.

Ohoopee
05-20-2014, 02:10 AM
According to wikipedia which is certainly not a reliable source, Titan is primarily composed of Water Ice and Rocky Materials. If there is Water then there is oxygen...but that has been done. I actually thought that I had come up with an idea that was seminew. I don't think I have read about a base built into a cryovolcano. I have read that there is evidence of possible Plate Techtonics on Titan so unless being used as a source of heat, I don't think it would be practical to build a base into a dormant cryovolcano, it would just be to dangerous that the benefits would not be enough to balance out against the danger. The only reason why I was using the cryovolcano was because I thought nobody else had...oh well, back to the drawing board.

TheNighSwan
05-20-2014, 12:23 PM
If there is Water then there is oxygen...

Not automatically, no.

Ohoopee
05-20-2014, 05:51 PM
You are correct of course, water would not automatically mean Oxygen but converting water to Oxygen is something that we already have the technology to do even today. I have already read articles about people championing a full time moon base. They were talking about melting down the ice deposits found on the moon and converting the oxygen into rocket fuel.

I was just saying that I THINK it would be very plauseable for an instillation to create Oxygen from the deposits of Water ice on Titan if they have the technology to over come the other vast challenges.