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My question is more about climate sciences, but I hope that it is still related to physics.

What would be possible atmospheric conditions for planet with some kind of "fire" ocean? I had some thoughts about Venus and Titan (and about gas planet from BBC movie with iron rains and incredible winds), but nothing specific.

How would this kind of atmosphere look like? How would fire ocean (and sky above it) look like? What are possible specifics?

Update: I am talking about magmatic fire or some kind of fission like in Oklo's natural fission reactor.

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closed as off topic by David Z Jul 14 '12 at 18:19

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-1 (sorry) this is not a very good question. The issue is that a "fire ocean" is not precise enough. If you want a lake of fire, it could be a chemical thing, a uranium pile producing fission, or gasses combusting, but then you need to specify which gasses. The reaction is too nebulous to answer in any way. –  Ron Maimon Jul 14 '12 at 3:35
Updated that information. –  Mixo123 Jul 14 '12 at 6:25
This doesn't help. What's a magnetic fire? A planetary scale fission reactor would produce a heck of a lot of hydrogen, so that would answer that question. Removed the downvote, because now I wonder if there is fission producing any significant amounts of new hydrogen on Jupiter. This might be answerable by the deuterium ratio, since fission neutrons produce only proton hydrogen, except that maybe the deuterium is all segregated into a deuterium region deep inside. I don't know anything, but it looks like planetary physics. Perhaps ask: can a planet have a planet-scale natural reactor? –  Ron Maimon Jul 14 '12 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

It is implausible to think of fires on the geological length and time scales you're considering. Fires are (relatively violent) chemical reactions that quickly consume their fuel and oxidizer, so such a planet would require pretty much infinite amounts of fuel and oxygen.

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Actually I would disagree with Emilio, because I think the Deccan traps and Siberian traps were examples of what the OP means by a fire sea.

However I still think it's a hard question to answer because it's difficult to disentangle the effects of the heat from the vulcanism from the effects of the gases they produce. Both traps have been implicated in extinction events though it seems unlikely that the Deccan traps were the major cause of the KT extinction (given the evidence for a meteor impact).

It has been suggested that the Permian traps increased the temperature of the Earth to the point where methane clathrates dissociated and the resulting methane belch caused catastrophic global warming. However as I understand it this was due to the carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emitted rather than due to the heat released.

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I understand that the KT extinction tends now to be thought of as triggered by the Chixculub meteor that was a deadly perturbation to world ecosystems already highly stressed by hundreds of thousands or few million years of Deccan trap volcanism: so the two are kind of thought of as contributing effects. –  WetSavannaAnimal aka Rod Vance Aug 31 '13 at 14:10

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