Volcanic Activity on Io

Infrared images of Jupiter's moon Io.  CREDIT: IMKE DE PATER AND KATHERINE DE KLEER, UC BERKELEY.

Infrared images of Jupiter’s moon Io. CREDIT: IMKE DE PATER AND KATHERINE DE KLEER, UC BERKELEY.

Volcanic outbursts on the Moon Io witnessed by the W. M. Keck and Gemini Observatories on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The images are amazing especially when you consider this moon is 3,700 km / 2,300 miles in diameter and it is the inner most moon of Jupiter.

While Io is known to be volcanic, this seems to be a bit unusual because three outbursts inside of two weeks is more then generally is anticipated in a year or even two. Not just that, but these are huge outbursts:

De Pater’s long-time colleague and coauthor Ashley Davies, a volcanologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., said that the recent eruptions resemble past events that spewed tens of cubic miles of lava over hundreds of square miles in a short period of time.

“These new events are in a relatively rare class of eruptions on Io because of their size and astonishingly high thermal emission,” he said. “The amount of energy being emitted by these eruptions implies lava fountains gushing out of fissures at a very large volume per second, forming lava flows that quickly spread over the surface of Io.”

Read the Keck press release here, very interesting.

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