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Surface changes on Io during the Galileo mission

January 1, 2004

A careful survey of Galileo SSI global monitoring images revealed more than 80 apparent surface changes that took place on Io during the 5 year period of observation, ranging from giant plume deposits to subtle changes in the color or albedo of Patera surfaces. Explosive volcanic activity was discovered at four previously unrecognized centers: an unnamed patera to the south of Karei that produced a Pele-sized red ring, a patera to the west of Zal that produced a small circular bright deposit, a large orange ring detected near the north pole of Io, and a small bright ring near Io's south pole. Only a handful of Io's many active volcanoes produced large scale explosive eruptions, and several of these erupted repeatedly, leaving at least 83% of Io's surface unaltered throughout the Galileo mission. Most of the hot spots detected from SSI, NIMS and ground-based thermal observations caused no noticeable surface changes greater than 10 km in extent over the five year period. Surface changes were found at every location where active plumes were identified, including Acala which was never seen in sunlight and was only detected through auroral emissions during eclipse. Two types of plumes are distinguished on the basis of the size and color of their deposits, confirming post-Voyager suggestions by McEwen and Soderblom [Icarus 55 (1983) 191]. Smaller plumes produce near-circular rings typically 150-200 km in radius that are white or yellow in color unless contaminated with silicates, and frequently coat their surroundings with frosts of fine-grained SO2. The larger plumes are much less numerous, limited to a half dozen examples, and produce oval, orange or red, sulfur-rich rings with maximum radii in the north-south direction that are typically in the range from 500 to 550 km. Both types of plumes can be either episodic or quasi-continuous over a five year period. Repeated eruptions of the smaller SO2-rich plumes likely contribute significantly to Io's resurfacing rate, whereas dust ejection is likely dominated by the tenuous giant plumes. Both types of plume deposits fade on time-scales of months to years through burial and alteration. Episodic seepages of SO2 at Haemus Montes, Zal Montes, Dorian Montes, and the plateau to the north of Pillan Patera may have been triggered by activity at nearby volcanic centers.

Publication Year 2004
Title Surface changes on Io during the Galileo mission
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2003.09.024
Authors Paul E. Geissler, Alfred McEwen, Cynthia B. Phillips, Laszlo P. Keszthelyi, John Spencer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70027240
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center