Determination of eruption temperature of Io's lavas using lava tube skylights

Ashley Gerard Davies, Laszlo P. Keszthelyi, Alfred S. McEwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Determining the eruption temperature of Io's dominant silicate lavas would constrain Io's present interior state and composition. We have examined how eruption temperature can be estimated at lava tube skylights through synthesis of thermal emission from the incandescent lava flowing within the lava tube. Lava tube skylights should be present along Io's long-lived lava flow fields, and are attractive targets because of their temporal stability and the narrow range of near-eruption temperatures revealed through them. We conclude that these skylights are suitable and desirable targets (perhaps the very best targets) for the purposes of constraining eruption temperature, with a 0.9:0.7-µm radiant flux ratio ≤6.3 being diagnostic of ultramafic lava temperatures. Because the target skylights may be small – perhaps only a few m or 10 s of m across – such observations will require a future Io-dedicated mission that will obtain high spatial resolution ( < 100 m/pixel), unsaturated observations of Io's surface at multiple wavelengths in the visible and near-infrared, ideally at night. In contrast to observations of lava fountains or roiling lava lakes, where accurate determination of surface temperature distribution requires simultaneous or near-simultaneous ( < 0.1 s) observations at different wavelengths, skylight thermal emission data are superior for the purposes of temperature derivation, as emission is stable on much longer time scales (minutes, or longer), so long as viewing geometry does not greatly change during that time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Io
  • Jupiter, satellites
  • Satellites, composition
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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