Ocean Chemistry

Loki: Chapter Three

     Living organisms on Loki live in the ocean, and most of them derive their energy from the heat and chemicals associated with the planetary volcanism. Conditions in the ocean are therefore of great interest.

     While the planet has an atmosphere, and storms sweep across the surface, conditions in the ocean are affected more by the volcanism than the atmospheric weather. Indeed, the surface of the ocean is normally covered with ice.

     Eruptions heat the water, causing it to rise and turn to steam: when the water cools, it sinks down again, thus causing a circulation of the water in the vent areas. As can be seen from the depth map, some areas of the ocean are naturally divided into large cells where heat-driven water circulates. The water areas without nearby volcanism are very cold and not nearly so nutrient-rich or biologically active as the areas near the vents. These areas do not support the variety of life forms found near the areas of volcanic activity.



     Volcanism adds significant amounts of chemicals to the water. The following is a short summary of the ocean chemistry, in comparison to that of Earth:

Chemical Components of Loki Earth
Loki Earth Loki Earth
Carbon 0.0034% 0.0031% Calcium 0.0022% 0.0024%
Nitrogen 0.000045% 0.00008% Magnesium 0.122% 0.13%
Chlorine 2.3% 2.04% Iron 0.000002% 0.000005%
Sodium 1.2% 1.09% Silicon 0.00045% 0.0004%
Potassium 0.062% 0.042% Bromine 0.0085% 0.0072%
Phosphorus 0.000016% 0.000011% Iodine 0.000007% 0.000005%
Sulfur 0.127% 0.097% Total> 3.82% 3.41%

Artist's Rendition of Underwater Eruptions from Infra-Red Photographs



Chris Jones
Sat Feb 18 00:31:33 MST 1995