Lava lakes on Io: Observations of Io's volcanic activity from Galileo NIMS during the 2001 fly-bys

Rosaly M C Lopes, Lucas W. Kamp, William D. Smythe, Peter Mouginis-Mark, Jeff Kargel, Jani Radebaugh, Elizabeth P. Turtle, Jason Perry, David Williams, R. W. Carlson, S. Douté

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Galileo's Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) obtained its final observations of Io during the spacecraft's fly-bys in August (I31) and October 2001 (I32). We present a summary of the observations and results from these last two fly-bys, focusing on the distribution of thermal emission from Io's many volcanic regions that give insights into the eruption styles of individual hot spots. We include a compilation of hot spot data obtained from Galileo, Voyager, and ground-based observations. At least 152 active volcanic centers are now known on Io, 104 of which were discovered or confirmed by Galileo observations, including 23 from the I31 and I32 Io fly-by observations presented here. We modify the classification scheme of Keszthelyi et al. (2001, J. Geophys. Res. 106 (E12) 33 025-33 052) of Io eruption styles to include three primary types: promethean (lava flow fields emplaced as compound pahoehoe flows with small plumes < 200 km high originating from flow fronts), pillanian (violent eruptions generally accompanied by large outbursts, > 200 km high plumes and rapidly-emplaced flow fields), and a new style we call "lokian" that includes all eruptions confined within paterae with or without associated plume eruptions). Thermal maps of active paterae from NIMS data reveal hot edges that are characteristic of lava lakes. Comparisons with terrestrial analogs show that Io's lava lakes have thermal properties consistent with relatively inactive lava lakes. The majority of activity on Io, based on locations and longevity of hot spots, appears to be of this third type. This finding has implications for how Io is being resurfaced as our results imply that eruptions of lava are predominantly confined within paterae, thus making it unlikely that resurfacing is done primarily by extensive lava flows. Our conclusion is consistent with the findings of Geissler et al. (2004, Icarus, this issue) that plume eruptions and deposits, rather than the eruption of copious amounts of effusive lavas, are responsible for Io's high resurfacing rates. The origin and longevity of islands within ionian lava lakes remains enigmatic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-174
Number of pages35
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Io
  • Satellites of Jupiter
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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