Galileo observations of volcanic plumes on Io




Io's volcanic plumes erupt in a dazzling variety of sizes, shapes, colors and opacities. In general, the plumes fall into two classes, representing distinct source gas temperatures. Most of the Galileo imaging observations were of the smaller, more numerous Prometheus-type plumes that are produced when hot flows of silicate lava impinge on volatile surface ices of SO2. Few detections were made of the giant, Pele-type plumes that vent high temperature, sulfur-rich gases from the interior of Io; this was partly because of the insensitivity of Galileo's camera to ultraviolet wavelengths. Both gas and dust spout from plumes of each class. Favorably located gas plumes were detected during eclipse, when Io was in Jupiter's shadow. Dense dust columns were imaged in daylight above several Prometheus-type eruptions, reaching heights typically less than 100 km. Comparisons between eclipse observations, sunlit images, and the record of surface changes show that these optically thick dust columns are much smaller in stature than the corresponding gas plumes but are adequate to produce the observed surface deposits. Mie scattering calculations suggest that these conspicuous dust plumes are made up of coarse grained “ash” particles with radii on the order of 100 nm, and total masses on the order of 106 kg per plume. Long exposure images of Thor in sunlight show a faint outer envelope apparently populated by particles small enough to be carried along with the gas flow, perhaps formed by condensation of sulfurous “snowflakes” as suggested by the plasma instrumentation aboard Galileo as it flew through Thor's plume [Frank, L.A., Paterson, W.R., 2002. J. Geophys. Res. (Space Phys.) 107, doi:10.1029/2002JA009240. 31-1]. If so, the total mass of these fine, nearly invisible particles may be comparable to the mass of the gas, and could account for much of Io's rapid resurfacing.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Galileo observations of volcanic plumes on Io
Series title Icarus
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2008.05.005
Volume 197
Issue 2
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Science B.V
Description 14 p.
First page 505
Last page 518
Other Geospatial Io
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N