Effects of lava heating on volatile-rich slopes on Io

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets



The upper crust of Io may be very rich in volatile sulfur and SO2. The surface is also highly volcanically active, and slopes may be warmed by radiant heat from the lava. This is particularly the case in paterae, which commonly host volcanic eruptions and long-lived lava lakes. Paterae slopes are highly variable, but some are greater than 70°. I model the heating of a volatile slope for two end-member cases: instantaneous emplacement of a large sheet flow, and persistent heating by a long-lived lava lake. In general, single flows can briefly raise sulfur to the melting temperature, or drive a modest amount of sublimation of SO2. Persistently lava-covered surfaces will drive much more significant geomorphic effects, with potentially significant sublimation and slope retreat. In addition to the direct effects, heating is likely to weaken slope materials and may trigger mass wasting. Thus, if the upper crust of Io is rich in these volatile species, future missions with high-resolution imaging are likely to observe actively retreating slopes around lava lakes and other locations of frequent eruptions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of lava heating on volatile-rich slopes on Io
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1002/2016JE005177
Volume 122
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 546
Last page 559
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