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Published Online: 10 February 2012

Acidification of Europa's Subsurface Ocean as a Consequence of Oxidant Delivery

Publication: Astrobiology
Volume 12, Issue Number 2

Abstract

Oxidants are formed at the surface of Europa and may be delivered to the subsurface ocean, possibly in great quantities. Whether these substances would be available for biological metabolism is uncertain, because they may react with sulfides and other compounds to generate sulfuric and other acids. If this process has been active on Europa for much of its age, then not only would it rob the ocean of life-supporting oxidants but the subsurface ocean could have a pH of ∼2.6, which is so acidic as to present an environmental challenge for life, unless organisms consume or sequester the oxidants fast enough to ameliorate the acidification. Key Words: Europa—Ocean chemistry—Oxidants—Sulfate—Peroxide—Oxygen—Sulfuric acid. Astrobiology 12, 151–159.

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cover image Astrobiology
Astrobiology
Volume 12Issue Number 2February 2012
Pages: 151 - 159
PubMed: 22283235

History

Published online: 10 February 2012
Published in print: February 2012
Published ahead of print: 27 January 2012
Accepted: 20 November 2011
Received: 8 April 2011

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    Matthew A. Pasek
    Department of Geology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
    Richard Greenberg
    Department of Planetary Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

    Notes

    Address correspondence to:Matthew A. PasekUniversity of South FloridaDepartment of Geology4202 E Fowler AveSCA 528Tampa, FL 33620E-mail: [email protected]

    Disclosure Statement

    The authors declare no competing interests.

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