November 15, 2004

Exotic Titan

Posted in General at 4:09 pm by Ian

The Cassini Probe found some pretty interesting stuff, it seems:
It looks very much like it’s something that oozed across the surface. It may be some sort of cryovolcanic flow, an analog to volcanism on Earth that is not molten rock but, at Titan’s very cold temperatures, molten ice.
Emphasis mine
I wonder how that’s different from, say, liquid steam.



  1. Lisa said,

    The distinction could perhaps be that the ice is not very pure at all and is mostly ions, leading to the form being much thicker than water as we think of it and with very different properties, although still technically classified as ice. But I dunno, maybe they just think “molten ice” sounds cooler than “water.”

  2. becca said,

    I think that it is actually ice, its too cold there not to be, but nobody said it was water ice. Theres plenty of other things that make ice, and though im not an expert on them, even glaciers flow. I’m sure theres something thats on the solid side of slushy at those temperatures that’ll flow more quickly.

  3. Ethan said,

    First, on the semantic side of things: ‘melt’ comes from a few Scandanavian and Norwegian words that meant ‘soft.’ So, today the technical definition of the word ‘melt’ and ‘molten’ refer to dissolution, dispersal and softness.

    Second, and far more importantly, I think when dealing with something with a name like cryovolcanism, geologists are definitely leaning towards using cool-sounding phrases like ‘molten ice’ and ‘ice volcano,’ along with being accurate. But it’s nice that they do have room within our language to actually call it molten, since ‘softness’ is rather relative, and something – whatever it actually is – that flows in a way that mimics lava is definitely relatively soft. And yeah, I think the whole ‘liquid steam’ vs. ‘molten ice’ thing is like blue-green and green-blue, where you’re stressing one aspect of the thing you’re describing — and here the flows are more like a solid than a gas.

    And I’m sure you weren’t just being ironic or making a joke with the ‘liquid steam’ bit, since you’re far too a somber fellow for anything like that. šŸ˜‰

  4. Ian said,

    Well, that’s my geology lesson for the day. Thank you all.

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