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Assuming you already had sufficient money and resources to build a tower stretching from the top of Europa's ice layer down to the bottom of the seabed, could you build it on top of one of its geysers to take advantage of both an easy access point as well as a sustainable source of clean geothermal energy? Or are the geysers too powerful for any man-made structure to maintain its structural integrity?

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean deep sea drills? $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Nov 23, 2016 at 8:58

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Going all the way down is not worth it

Source here Source here

In a nutshell, geothermal energy (for electricity and not heating) uses the cycle of warm water rising to power turbines. While it's true that you will find faster currents if you go all the way down to the seafloor, and thus may be able to produce electricity more efficiently down there, not only is that an expensive, logistical nightmare - but it's unprecedented!

Superstructure Requirements
Estimates put the bottom of the Europan subsurface ocean at 62 miles below the surface. Reaching this depth will be discussed in the next section - but 62 miles of solid metal structure, however thin, is not going to be easy to transport in space. If you use cables instead of a tower, I wish you luck stopping the geyser's current from moving them out of the way.

Getting Down
Europa's ice is about 10 to 15 miles thick, so to transport a structure down to the seafloor (your power plant will not fit inside the geyser) you will need to do more drilling than is economically viable.

Access to Turbines
Once you're at the bottom of the seafloor, you will need a way to transport electricity many, many miles upward in a cable that if severed (by ice movement, subsurface cthulus, miscalculated length etc) will completely cut your access to the power plant. Multiple cables may negate the risk, but they are still susceptible (to multiple cthulus).

Structural Integrity
It is extremely unlikely that any turbines or structures that deep will retain any integrity. If plumes can rise 62 miles from the seafloor and still shoot ~20 times the height of Everest into space, it is doubtful that the very base of one of these phenomena would be calm - as momentum is only slowed as the water rises - let alone slow enough to allow much of anything to retain integrity.

A geothermal plant on the surface may do fine

Without having to drill substantially deep, transport hundreds miles of cable through space, move electricity up through two layers of Europa, or worry about strong currents - it may be feasible to build above the surface.

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