Active Volcanism on Io: Global Distribution and Variations in Activity

Rosaly Lopes-Gautier, Alfred S. McEwen, William B. Smythe, P. E. Geissler, L. Kamp, A. G. Davies, J. R. Spencer, L. Keszthelyi, R. Carlson, F. E. Leader, R. Mehlman, L. Soderblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Io's volcanic activity has been monitored by instruments aboard the Galileo spacecraft since June 28, 1996. We present results from observations by the near-infrared mapping spectrometer (NIMS) for the first 10 orbits of Galileo, correlate them with results from the Solid State Imaging System (SSI) and from groundbased observations, and compare them to what was known about Io's volcanic activity from observations made during the two Voyager flybys in 1979. A total of 61 active volcanic centers have been identified from Voyager, groundbased, and Galileo observations. Of these, 41 are hot spots detected by NIMS and/or SSI. Another 25 locations were identified as possible active volcanic centers, mostly on the basis of observed surface changes. Hot spots are correlated with surface colors, particularly dark and red deposits, and generally anti-correlated with white, SO2-rich areas. Surface features corresponding to the hot spots, mostly calderas or flows, were identified from Galileo and Voyager images. Hot spot temperatures obtained from both NIMS and SSI are consistent with silicate volcanism, which appears to be widespread on Io. Two types of hot spot activity are present: persistent-type activity, lasting from months to years, and sporadic events, which may represent either short-lived activity or low-level activity that occasionally flares up. Sporadic events are not often detected, but may make an important contribution to Io's heat flow and resurfacing. The distribution of active volcanic centers on the surface does not show any clear correlation with latitude, longitude, Voyager-derived global topography, or heat flow patterns predicted by the asthenosphere and deep mantle tidal dissipation models. However, persistent hot spots and active plumes are concentrated toward lower latitudes, and this distribution favors the asthenosphere rather than the deep mantle tidal dissipation model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-264
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Infrared observations
  • Io
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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