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Gas Planet Seismology and Cooling


Markham, Stephen Robert (2022) Gas Planet Seismology and Cooling. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/zb52-0517.


In this thesis I advocate for the enhancement of interdisciplinary expertise between atmospheric and interiors sciences. I illustrate the intimate connection between atmosphere and interior with four projects involving two major topics: giant planet seismology, and convective inhibition by condensation. First I advance a heuristic to evaluate generic localized excitation sources for giant planet seismicity, concluding observed oscillations on Jupiter may be caused by highly energetic rock storms lurking deep beneath the visible clouds. Next I develop a method to use existing spacecraft data to probe for seismic activity on giant planets, applying the method to Cassini data. This method finds possible evidence of p-modes on Saturn, excited to staggering amplitudes warping the surface of Saturn with kilometer scale displacements. Next I explore the impact of convective inhibition on Uranus and Neptune, finding that condensation of methane and water produces non-negligible corrections to these planets' thermal histories. Finally I explore a similar mechanism operating in the limit where condensing species are highly abundant. I find that considering convective inhibition, super-Earths can retain their primordial heat for longer than the age of the universe.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:kronoseismology; dioseismology; giant planet seismology; convective inhibition; thermal evolution; Jupiter; Saturn; Uranus; Neptune; super-Earths; sub-Neptunes
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Batygin, Konstantin (advisor)
  • Stevenson, David John (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P. (chair)
  • Fuller, James
  • Batygin, Konstantin
  • Stevenson, David John
Defense Date:22 September 2021
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:09242021-014822132
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted as Chapter 2 adapted as Chapter 3 adapted as Chapter 4
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14370
Deposited By: Stephen Markham
Deposited On:07 Oct 2021 18:22
Last Modified:02 Dec 2022 19:39

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