A ”quick” tour of volcanism on Io

By Jesper Sandberg

Art: Lucasfilm, the moon Mustafar in Star Wars episode 3 Revenge Of The Sith is a good analogue of Io. Mustafar is just like Io torn by tidal forces from its nearby gas giant, on this planet Anakin Skywalker got severe burn injuries in the lava flows and had therefore to live inside the Darth Vader suit for the rest of his life. Io is Jupiters’ darth vader moon. Lava planets like Io are very common in the Sci-Fi genre.

1. The variety of moons out there and the discovery of Io’s true nature

After writing my article on the Pillan Pateras 1997 eruption, it is time to return to Io with a general overview, because there are not many articles on this. Jupiter’s Moon Io is by far the most volcanic place in the solar system. Io is so volcanically active, that it looks more like the planets did over 4 billion years ago than like any modern terrestrial celestial body. Io is a world of violent extremes, where 100’s of volcanoes are erupting at once, with huge lava fountains going up miles, huge lava lakes which can swallow small countries on Earth and with hot basaltic lava flows spreading out over 100’s of kilometers. The volcanoes on IO dwarf those on Earth in eruption scale and volume as well. Ever since I learned of Io as a small kid it has been stuff of fascination, a world so very volcanic it is more like a Star Wars world aka ”lava planet” -think planet Mustafar- rather than any normal celestial object.

The discovery of the true nature of the major Galilean moons by the Voyager and Galileo space probes, showed how moons of a planet can have an amazing diversity if they are powered by tidal heating. The probes were seeing new exciting stuff for the first time. The lava oceans of Io and the volcanic saltwater oceans of Europa are among the greatest discoveries in the history of space exploration.

IO is the only place outside Earth and Venus where hot silicate volcanism has been seen in action. In this article I will talk about in general how Ionian volcanism operates. We will take a broad overview of Ionian volcanism for the readers, looking at Io’s main eruption styles. Many VC readers may feel it is a very alien place, yet it’s volcanism is surprisingly earthlike, being basaltic, although it is far far more vigorous than Earth’s.

In the 1970’s most scientists expected Io to be cold, dead, boring, covered in impact craters like our moon. Nasa scientist Bruce Murray had to shout and lead ”a one-man war crusade” at the Voyager 1979 team to convince them to have these ”boring moons” included in the imaging time at Jupiter, but it paid off. They found Sci-Fi-like worlds. The space probes saw things that nobody had seen or imagined before. The most volcanically active body in the solar system was a small moon. This was unexpected and was a huge shift in the paradigm of what to expect in the outer solar system, where it is very cold and presumably very dead: the exotic variety and diversity of the Galilean moons surprised everyone at Nasa JPL. The galilean moons became the star of the whole Voyager – Galileo probe experience, even more interesting than Jupiter itself. Io and Europa spawned a revolution in planetary geology about what kinds of bodies are possible and where life coud exist. Other non-jovian moons powered by tidal heating processes are Titan and Enceladus.

A visit to IO would reveal 100s of active volcanoes erupting all at once!. Caused of Jupiters strong gravity and the pull from all of the other moons, IO is being pushed through a meatgrinder: the whole body of Io is being deformed by tidal forces which generate tremendous amounts of heat. This causes Io’s interior to melt and forms hot silicate magmas. In fact the whole of upper mantle of Io may be a so-called magma ocean. Io’s geothermal heat flux far far exceeds that of Earth or of any other terrestrial body. Because Io is locked in this tidal thug of war, its also locked permanently in a volcanic hellscape, an hadean era that Earth escaped from billions of years ago. For a person obsessed with volcanoes there is nothing more fascinating than Jupiter’s moon Io and it’s space volcanoes. It is also volcanism on a colossal scale: events like Laki, Thjorsahraun and bigger happen many times a year on Io, while on Earth it is once in a few 1000 years. If Earth was as volcanic as Io is, CO2 would build up and Earth would suffer a run-away greenhouse effect becoming a Venus. The irradiated volcanic wasteland of Io is the most extreme moon environment in the solar system. Perhaps the most fitting names for Io would be fire gods from roman mythology, like Vulcan.

Io is home to some of the most incredible sights in the solar system, kilometers tall incandescent hot lava fountains going up in huge tephra columns, ionized gas columns going up 300 km glowing as in green blue-ish northern lights, while Jupiter looms over 30 times larger than Earth’s Moon in the sky. It is a landscape that is unforgiving in all senses. Run-away volcanism and strong radiation for Jupiter makes Io the most dangerous moon to explore in the solar system both for men and for robots. Io’s volcanoes are deadly, but before the hot lava will get you, Jupiter’s radiation will. The radiation on the surface is enough to kill a human in minutes, so a spacecraft needs heavy-duty insulation against it.

Jupiter’s worlds: Graphic by Nasa. Tidal heating can keep a world alive. Jupiter’s moons are worlds of their own. Io closest to Jupiter is like Lucifer descended into hell, cooked by tidal heating, while Europa got the sweet spot, probably tidally heated enough for volcanism on the seafloor but not enough to boil away the oceans and ice crust. Ganymede and Callisto resemble Europa but have more ocean water and less tidal heating. The dry nature of Io probably has to do with it being cooked dry by the young, hot Jupiter. The red ring and black center is Pele Patera’s sulfur plume and dark silicate ejecta that is a product of the violent lava fountains in the lava lake.

2. The color and surface of Io

Io is definitely the most colorful world surface in the solar system. The moon’s outer crust is probably made of countless layers of basaltic lava and sulfur snow. The surface shows dark fresh silicate lava flows and yellow-to-red sulfur frost and silicate lava flows that are in different stages of being covered by sulfur snow. Violent lava fountains on Io tends tends to leave dark ring halos, that consist of basaltic pyroclasts, while more gentle sulfur gas plumes tend to leave red or orange sulfur deposits. It is very cold on Io at -130 C. That means that when sulfur rich volcanic gases escape from lava fountains and lava lakes on Io, they freeze out forming flakes of snow. The snow settles on hot fresh silicate lava flows forming the wonderful spectrum of colors. Fresh lava flows on Io start out stunningly dark. (All dark spots on Io are either active basaltic lava flows or lava lakes). The dark spots that always stay dark steel grey or black are silicate lava lakes that remain too hot for sulfur snow to settle. Cooling lava flows on IO tend to first go from black to green as the sulfur reacts with basaltic minerals forming a kind of pyrite frost. As the emplaced basaltic lava continues to cool and age, they slowly disappear under sulfur frost and snow turning orange and later yellow and ultimately yellow-beige, until a new basaltic lava flow comes along.

Io is a world of extremes, the dark basaltic spots can reach over 1300 degrees c and the light sulfur snow plains can drop below -130C  so its a world of both fire and ice. Despite very high levels of volcanic activity, most of the ionian surface consists of empty sulfur plains rather than being totally filled by lava flows. Fresh lava flows on Io would be like Holuhraun, but ”older” sulfur plains would be like a strange version of Earth’s moon, without impact craters and without a lunar dust regolith but with beige yellow sulfur that covers basaltic ground and perhaps be powdery. The sulfur snow is probably packed quite hard in older areas.

Io’s fantastic shades of sulfur frost and fresh basaltic flows make it look like an ugly rotten orange, but I think its the most beautiful moon in the solar system with all these shades. Volcanoes on Io vary from giant low shield volcanoes, lava plains to lava filled calderas and fissure systems. There are so many volcanoes and types of volcanic features in mafic variations, it is best to leave them for separate articles. Despite the large volcanic outgassing, Io has no atmosphere, probably because Io is too small and the surface too cold. On Io all volcanic gas freezes to ice on the surface forming these colors. The weather forecast on Io is – 130 degrees C or below and a light snowfall of sulfur frost or a violent rain of hot lava pyroclasts.

Graphic: http://www.elementsmagazine.org/archivearticles/e18_6/3-Davies.pdf. Cutaway block of Ionian geology, Io is very much a volcano world and may shed light of what Earth was like billions of years ago. Io erupts primarily hot silicate lavas, but sulfur volatiles play the role as dominant magmatic volatile and pure sulfur flows in some areas are not impossible to rule out.

3. Io magma

With the arrival of Voyager probes, it was thought that Ionian lavas was liquid sulfur, with the colors being different sulfur allotropes and temperatures. But Io’s very high density proved a silicate composition, with dense metal-rich rock. In the 1990’s when the Galileo Spacecraft turned its sensors on Io’s dark spots, temperatures as high as 1700 C was recorded, a sign of silicate volcanism. (Today those readings have been revised to 1330 degrees C ) but true ultramafic 1500 C readings are not Impossible to rule out. During the great eruption at Pillan Patera, Galileo Probe dectected mafic minerals in form of ortopyroxenes in that lava flow, which shows silicate volcanism, meaning Ionian magmas are basaltic. With Io’s silicate volcanism around 100 times more vigorous than Earth over the whole surface, many think that the fiery moon may have a global magma ocean under its surface.

Ionian silicate magmas are low in silica, very hot and therefore have very low viscosity, perhaps even lower than Kilauea and Nyiragongo. Having very low viscosity fits well with the Ionian flood plains of lava and huge lava seas and the almost complete lack of tall volcanic edifices other than very broad shield volcanoes. The eruption temperatures over 1280 degrees C means that Ionian lavas will erupt nearly white hot. Perhaps Ionian lavas could look like liquid iron slag when it erupts. If it is hot enough at above 1300 degrees C the magmas will have very low visocosity, lower than almost all Earthly lavas, only some hot hawaiian lavas come close to Io today. At temperatures higher than say 1330 degrees C Ionian lavas could be ultramafic, perhaps like komatiites, but the views Galileo spacecraft provided of compound active ionian lava flow fields suggest a morphology and viscosity similar to the pahoehoe flows of Kilauea, rather than flowing like water like a komatiite would do. Still Ionian magmas are hot and may have a viscosity much lower than most terrestrial examples.

Now we know thanks to Pillan that Ionian magmas are clearly silicate magmas, not unlike Earth’s basalt, but they are very sulfur rich. The sulfur gas also expands violently as the hot magma rise towards the vacuum of space, driving enormous lava fountains and gas plumes from the ionian volcanoes. Ionian eruptions are ”effusive” but with sulfur gas expanding violently in shallow conduits, are often surprisingly violent. The high sulfur content of Ionian ”basalt” is though to come from recyling: volcanoes drive out volatiles: SO2, water and CO2. Water and CO2 are lost to space but SO2 is heavier and stays behind. It freezes on the surface, either as SO2 in the coldest places or as yellow octasulfur crystals around cooling lava flows. Basaltic lava flows and sulfur snow constantly accumulate and form a layer of pancakes. It gets buried deeper and deeper until the layers re-melts at 30 to 50 kilometers depth and supplies another round of eruptions. Over time, water and CO2 are lost from the crust and only SO2 survives as a volatile magma component.

A hand specimen of Ionian lavas would be dark, heavy and resemble terrestrial basalt in any explorers hand. My best opinion on Ionian magmas composition is some kind of thoelitic basalt that is similar to the mare lavas, but ultramafic is not impossible to rule out, also the silicate composition could be a little different than Earth’s basalts. If we really want to know Io’s silicate chemistry a space probe would have to flow low over Io and fly through an eruption column there it would deploy a wafer-like collector where tiny pyroclasts would be collected and trapped, and then it flies back to Earth, reenters the atmosphere and the capsule would be captured and its mineral – glass contents could be studied.

Photo: By Galileo spacecraft, Io is the most volcanic place in the solar system, pale areas are sulfur frost/sulfur snow, while dark black areas are hot silicate volcanism (basalt) whose surfaces are too hot for snow to settle. The largest black spot is Loki Patera 220 km wide it is the largest lava ocean in the solar system, beige – white flow patterns are earlier sulfur frosted basalt flows.

4. A look at Io’s lava lakes and lava seas

Photo by Galileo Spacecraft: An excellent closeup of a lava lake at Radegast Patera, hot, dark and smooth. It is clearly a huge lake of basaltic lava, you can even see new hot dark surface as old crust sinks into the lava lake. Being 10s of km wide it dwarfs any terrestrial lava lake. And this is a ”small” lava lake on IO

On Earth a permanent active lava lake surface larger than 1 kilometer wide simply does not exist. Kilauea and Nyiragongo may be able to do it once in a while, but most open conduit lava lakes seem restricted to max 300 m wide. Most open conduit Earth lava lakes are merely pools as big as a tennis court. On Io, a large lava lake is 230 kilometers wide, that is, bigger than Rhode Island/ They are better called ”lava seas”. Small lava lakes on Io are 20 km wide (you can fit St Helens inside!). Some of these really large lava lakes I imagine as holes into IO’s inner asthenosphere magma ocean. There is something mesmerizing about searing space lava lakes as large as some of the US great lakes and some smaller states.

Io’s giant lava lakes are easy to spot on visible light Galileo imagery as huge dark black spots that do not change shape and are almost always too hot for sulfur snow frost to settle on it. Ionian lava lakes come in two behaviours in their thermal emissions as seen by Galileo Spacecraft: placid and active lava lake surfaces. They are both open conduited but vent heat and gases very differently.

Photo: Voyager: at over 220 kilometers Loki Patera is the largest lava sea in the solar system.

Graphic by myself: Loki Patera lava sea compared to Iceland, the largest lava sea on Io.

The very largest Ionian lava lakes are ”placid lakes” that are most of the large black stationary spots on Io with a quite cool but thin and calm surface crust that are only episodically resurfaced. Resurfacing happens in a front that spreads over the lava lake as heavy old crust founders and gets replaced by hot fresh gassy basalt. It can take months for the largest lava lake surfaces on Io to repave itself. For Galileo spacecraft and Earth based instruments it is seen as a very hot front that is creeping over the constantly warm surface. Loki Patera, the solar systems largest lava lake, is one such monster, a 230 km wide lava lake pit whose behaviour involves periodic overturns of its surface. If you were standing on the cliff walls of Loki Patera it is so big the lava lake would curve with the Ionian horizon. At 21 000 square km Loki Patera is a million times the surface area of the average Earth lava lake. With most of Io’s heat flow coming from these dark (100 – 200 km wide spots) it is possible that a lot of Ionian heat gets released through placid lava lake overturns rather than by eruptions. The high geothermal heat flux keeps these huge lakes molten and active and prevents them from getting a solid thick stable crust. Similar overturning crusts have been seen in much smaller lakes in Hawaii like at the Kupainiaha vent.

The surface of Loki Patera also seems to be jammed full by ”icebergs” of volatile rich rocks that are broken off from the patera rims and are slowly drifting around in this sea of lava, not unlike the lavabergs in some Kilauea lava lakes. In Loki the biggest lavabergs are as large as some of the smaller Azores islands, so the same scale as some of the larger icebergs in Antarctica. In some of these types of lava lakes like at Daedalus, Hephaestus, Amaterasu paterae, the dark lava lakes are surrounded by older bright flows that radiate from them, so perhaps sometimes these gigantic lava lakes rise and have gigantic lava overflows covering over 1000 s of square km, on a scale of nothing recorded on Earth in recent times.

In March 8, 2015 a rare orbital alignment occurred between Io and Europa, two of the moons of Jupiter, that allowed researchers to distinguish heat being emitted from Loki Patera. The astronomers were able to accomplish this because Europa’s surface is covered in water ice which reflects small amounts of sunlight at infrared wavelengths. Scientists were able to determine that there were two waves of resurfacing lava, which explains the change in brightness on Loki Patera every 400–600 days. Loki Patera had until recently had a relatively predictable crustal resurfacing time, but has changed its timetable, leading to longer times between resurfacing. A new theory to explain this is that the upper crust is gassier and lower in density and more un-willing to turn over.

Graphic https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006JE002703 Crust resurfacing of the largest Ionian lava lakes. This is what a spacecrafts sensor would see thermally. This graphic fits Tupan patera features (photo below) perfectly.

Photo Galileo Spacecraft: Tupan Patera is an excellent example of a placid Ionian lava lake that has been stagnant and was caught overturning. But what is in the image here? 2 is freshly overturned basalt surface, too hot for sulfur snow to settle, the overturning front is slowly creeping towards the right consuming the old cold crust. 1 is old cold lava lake crust that is covered by sulfur snow. 3 is an interesting example where the crust is overturning in many places, some are dark and fresh and some are green and have pyrite frost on them meaning not all overturns are active in that part. The scale here is gigantic. The lava lake is 75 kilometers wide and the walls are 2 to 3 km tall.

Another class of Ionian lava lakes are ”active lava lakes”. They have a much faster circulation and faster supply by gas and their surfaces are much more active and disturbed by lava fountains and crustal disturbances. A famous example on Io is Pele Patera which is Io’s most thermally active lava lake. Much more hot lava surfaces are revealed to space than the placid lakes that only overturns episodically. The crust on these lakes are thin and overturns regularly. It is probably circulating, and is disturbed by huge fountains and lava upwellings. Pele Patera consist of an elongated lava lake pit that sits on the Northern edge of the fiery tectonic canyon called ”Danube Planum”. It was constantly very bright in Galileos Spacecrafts sensors, in fact it is Io’s consistently most powerful constant thermal source, suggesting a constant supply of gas rich magma from depth which manifests itself as persistent fountains in the lake.

The style of activity may be similar to Halema’uma’u s 2008 – 2018 open lake phase or even Marum, but the scale is off any charts here on Earth. Standing on the 2 to 3 km tall walls would reveal a lava lake that stretches beyond the horizon. And unlike the placid Loki Patera, Pele Patera would probably show a long line of lava fountains and upwellings the size of skyscrapers stretching for miles along the nightmarishly steep walls of this caldera, just waiting to consume any explorer in radiation proof suit that slips on some rock. It is perhaps similar to standing on a Grand Canyon thats lava filled. To be at the rim of Pele Patera would perhaps be like Mustafar in Revenge Of The Sith. Pele Patera would be a wonderful deadly sight up close.

The biggest lava fountains in Pele Patera are a constant source of of dark pyroclasts, that carpet an area half of the size of Spain around Danube Planum. Features like that are a good sign of massive lava fountains in the lake, evoking the sight of a constant ”fire rain” around this area, with curtains of lava chunks falling kilometers before they are swallowed up by the lava lake. Any observers on the other rim far away from the fountains would be showered by hot falling silicate pyroclasts that constantly falls in the area. The violent activity at Peles lava lake release a lot of gas, mainly sulfur, and a large sulfur plume rises 300 kilometers into space above this lava lake which deposits sulfur snow in thick layers. Closer to the lava lake pit the landscape is mantled by silicate pyroclasts. It is entirely possible that the really large lava lake pits on Io may grow from lakes like Pele, with the pit walls caving in growing the lava lake into a larger and more calm lava ocean like Loki patera.

A safer view of Pele Patera would be from the mesa cliffs at Danube Planum overlooking the lava lake and the massive plume coming up from it. Pele is home to a permanent 1200 km wide and 400 kilometers high gas plume of sulfur allotropes, like a dome, and like most gases it scatters blue light from the sun, so inside it the radiation proof suited traveller may see a dark blue sky as he stares up in the void above, a welcome sight from the otherwise harsh black vacuum of Io’s surface. Despite the vigorous fountaining at peles lava lake, most of this lava lake is covered by a black floating crust, thinner than at Loki, with the lava fountains mostly confined to the edges. One can imagine waves caused by lava fountains along the lava lakes edge, spreading under the thin crust of Pele Patera and causing the kilometers wide crustal plates to bob and heave with the waves.

Photo: Galileo thermal spacecraft closeup of Pele Pateras lava fountains, the most violent lava lake in the solar system. While similar to terrestrial lava lakes in behaviour, the scale of the activity is off any scale on Earth.

Art: by myself showing a cross section of the monsterous Pele Patera volcano. While perhaps similar for example to Halemaumau, the lava lake scale is once again off the charts. I modified a graphic from Dr Jani Radebaughs papers. The size of magma stoorage is ( very speculative )

Art by myself. The lava lake at Pele is 60 km long, its edges are marked by thermal emissions. For comparison, here it is shown placed just north of Vatnajökull glacier.

5. Lava flows and styles of lava flow eruptions on Io

Moving away from Io’s raging lava lakes its time to take a look at another type of Ionian activity: it’s lava flows. There is no shortage of lava flows here, in fact Io is entirely covered by basaltic lava flows of various ages. In some areas the flows are fresh hot and black and active, in other places old lava flows are buried under meters of sulfur snow and become sulfur snow fields rather than lava flow fields. In some ” older” areas on Io the constant rain of sulfur snow packs into thick layers and I even imagine sulfur glaciers. Sillicate flows and sulfur snow on Io haves a complex relationship: when hot silicate lava flows over frozen volatile layers it causes violent degassing and explosions. Lava flows resurface large parts of Io’s surface over time and is the major building blocks of Ionian crust. The fresh lava crusts are black and crunchy basaltic very earthlike, but the sulfur snow would be an alien environment but perhaps not unlike fallen snow on Earth. Imaginary explorers in radiation proof spacesuits would leave yellow footsteps behind them and a rover car would leave yellow tracks on the sulfur plains.

Fresh lava flows on Io are surprisingly Earthlike and can be divided into tube fed pahoehoe and fountain fed Aa flows, clearly seen so by their morphology in spaceprobe photos. But if the eruptions are identical to, for example, Hawaii and Iceland, the scale of them are huge compared to any historical earthly lava flows, just like Io’s lava lakes are huge compared to Earth’s ones. On Earth lava flows rarely much beyond 10 km, the eruptions are simply not large enough. Hawaii and Iceland, Earth’s two strongest volcanic powerhouses, are capable of sending flows 10’s of km long or even over 100 km, but on Io it is very common for both tube fed and fountain fed lava flows to spread out for many 100s of kilometers. Some older preserved lava channel features on Io suggest apocalyptic eruptions where lava flows of 1000s of km long may be possible. One such feature is the gigantic Tawhaki Vallis lava channel. The lava production on Io’s surface is probably a few 100s of km3 every Earth year, Earth doesn’t even produce 1 km3 of lava a year on its dry surface and most that is emplaced in Hawaii and Iceland.

Ionian silicate lava flows can be divided into two categories by their morphology seen in Galileo Spacecraft photos: slow and fast flows. It is time to have a look at them.

Galileo spacecraft photos showing the large sizes of some of Io’s compound tube fed lava flows, with the large Lei Klung Fluctus dwarfing any recent historical lava flow on Earth. to the left is Carrizozo Malpais Lava Flow shown for comparison with these Io flows.

6. Slow tube lava flows (prometheus style eruptions)

These are most common types of lava flows on Io s surface and are a major part of Ionian crust formation and landscape resurfacing. They are like massive versions of the Puu Oo eruption with a constant relatively slow lava output that carpets large areas of Ionian ground over timespans of years. Such lava flows are tube fed and constantly supplied from a magma source in the Ionian asthenosphere. The Galileo spacecraft observed close-up imagery of three such pahoehoe fields on Io, on Amirani, Prometheus and Zamana volcanoes. On Prometheus and Zamana pahoehoe lava fields Galileo were shown to be identical in flow morphology to Kilauea’s pahoehoe fields when seen from above. The first Ionian volcano that confirmed that tube fed pahoehoe existed outside Earth was Prometheus and the eruption style was named ”Promethean Style eruptions” or compound pahoehoe lava flow fields in some papers, On Io they form lava plateaus and plains rather than any shield volcanoes.

Photo: Galileo spacecraft showing the tube fed prometheus lava flow field, clearly showing dark fresh paheohoe breakouts. The dark ejecta around the flow front are the result from explosive interaction between hot silicate lava and cold sulfur snow ices. The morphology is clearly pahoehoe, and reminds me of Kilauea’s coastal benches when sea salt settles on lava, and dark hot fresh flows contrasts with older salty white. The lower photo shows sulfur dunes formed by freezing gas jets as hot basalt flows over sulfur ice.

Such lava flows can be active for decades or perhaps 100s of years and slowly resurface the Ionian surface. While similar to Kilaueas lava flows during shield building, the scale is larger, the Ionian Amirani – Maui tube fed lava field is 500 km long and apparently fed by a 300 kilometer long lava tube system.

An observer on the Ionian ground would see a landscape very familiar to Hawaii’s Puu Oo fields but the lava supply rate to the flow front is much faster than Puu Oo so the lava flow breakouts along the front or inside the flow field will probably be much larger. Changes in Ionian flow fields documented by Galileo spacecraft suggest a far larger resurfacing rate than Puu Oo s lava fields. Individual breakouts of these Ionian Pahoehoe flows may surge forward at 10s of cubic meters a second as the inflated crusts cannot hold the pressure. Any imaginary explorer will have to run and watch his step. The lava breaking out is very hot and highly fluid. First the breakouts exposing 1320 C lava are white hot then yellow, then orange and finally red turns to black as the hot Ionian stuff hides itself below a black blanket. But because of the low gravity even these fluid Ionian flow breakouts haves a swollen look, it is not pushed down as much by gravity as on Earth.

Despite the placid nature of these lava flows they are dangerous for imaginary metal clad Sci-Fi explorers. When the hot pahoehoe lava flows over Ionian ground, they flow over sulfur snow layers that have been accumulating for a long time. The hot Ionian lava have a far higher temperatures than the boiling point of the sulfur, so the breakouts vaporize the covered sulfur and huge gas pockets build up causing explosive phreatomagmatic activity along the flow fronts. And indeed all active Ionian lava flows have dark silicate dust fans along their edges from sulfur gas explosions sending lava spatter flying everywhere. The vaporization of sulfur snow also forms gas jets, and this piles the sulfur up into dunes around the lava flow front. Because of this violent interaction of lava and sulfur, it may not be safe to explore the active flow fronts at all, as Ionian lava flow fronts is often prone to violently explode. Behind the flow front the scenery is more peaceful and the lava flows breaking out can be watched safely because the ground is fresh dark black basalt and there may only be a slight coating of green ”pyrite frost” as sulfur snow chemically reacts with hot basalt. But close to the flow front the land is mostly pure fresh glassy basalt, ropey lava and lobate fluidal breakouts dot the scenery. Large inflation mounds and tumulus structures are found too forming a hummocky but smooth, hilly landscape. The surface maybe cracked by inflation pressure from incoming lava from the tube system and a fierce yellow hot glow can be seen in these meters deep cracks, just like it does on inflation cracks in pahoehoe fields on Earth. Sometimes lava flows violently breaks out from inflation mounds making this an uneasy unsafe imaginary place to camp the rover habitat for well needed sleep.

Photo: Galileo spacecraft. The Amirani lava flow field is the largest tube feed active lava flow in the solar system. Galileo showed massive resurfacing between different visits as it orbited Jupiter. Fresh hot basalt is black, green is pyrite frost that happens when sulfur snow settle on warm basalt. The lava expansion rate is much higher here than in any historical terrestrial tube feed eruption.

A few 10s of km further into the flow field the crust grows thicker and colder as the tube system is well developed here. The ground has a clear coverage of sulfur frost. In the silent radiation filled vacuum, sulfur snow sourced from active vents and frozen volcanic gases silently falls down and settles on the basalt. The pahoehoe features here are not black but yellow or green or beige as sulfur frost and snow is building up on the basalt surface. The alien yet familiar landscape is dotted with infernal glowing pits, lava tube skylights. Here imaginary explorers can sample white hot Ionian silicate lava without the worry of being blown up. The tube skylights maybe as large as houses, so are real ”blast furnaces” and one does not want any imaginary manned rover to fall into these. Large amounts of frozen ”sulfur snow” also vents from these glowing skylights as gases freeze in the -150 C Ionian environment. The lava flow rates flowing inside will be much faster than for example in the Puu Oo eruption, and could be as high as 100s of cubic meters a second to explain the large 800 square kilometers resurfacing seen by Galileo spacecraft at the Amirani pahoehoe lava flow fields in just a few months difference. The lava flow field is also dotted with innumerable gas vents where gas escapes and freeze spewing sulfur snow like snowblower machines, the immense Jupiter dominates the horizon brooding and ever present, it is an unearthly sight.

Compound tube fed lava flows like these resurface large parts of the Ionian surface over time. There are very few holocene continental pahoehoe fields that comes close to any of Io’s. Most Ionian fields are vastly larger than any earthly pahoehoe fields. The magma production at these kinds of Ionian eruptions are quite notable. Kilauea, Earth’s most productive volcano in the long term, covered around 5 to 8 square miles every month during the Puu Oo eruption, but the Aminarani Ionian flow field covered 250 to 470 square miles in new lava surface during the same timespan. Io’s upper layers are probably full of lava tubes, that get compressed and crushed further down as new lava layers get added above. Many geologists think these lava flows coud be analougus to many prehistoric flood basalt units on earth. Many large LIP flow fields have turned out to be paheohoes so the Io examples coud be like them.

Photos. Galileo Spacecraft showing pahoehoe flows on Io, identical to the fluid hawaiian pahoehoe at Kilauea but far larger in scale. Puu Oo flow fields are 16 km wide in comparison.

Graphic: The interaction of hot basalt and sulfur ice/snow is a major process on Io s surface, forming dark tephra plumes around active lava flows when trapped gas explode. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-29682-x

7. Fast lava flow eruptions (pillanian style eruptions)

Photo: By New Horizons spacecraft showing a spectacular lava fountain eruption at Tvashtar Catena that was caused by a major fissure eruption. These are the most violent lava eruptions in the solar system and perhaps analogous to flood basalt vents.

Now we are getting into the most fascinating side of Ionian volcanism, the violent high output eruptions, that are very different from the slow compound lava flows and lava lakes that we looked at above. These are fast violent fissure eruptions, or paroxymal eruptions from central vents or fissures caused by fast magma ascent and violent depressurization of volcanic gases, resulting in large volumes of lava being erupted over short timescales. Such eruptions are named after the spectacular 1997 eruption at Pillan Patera that I wrote on before in this article https://www.volcanocafe.org/ios-pillan-patera-eruption-in-1997-the-largest-lava-falls-ever-seen/ . These eruptions involves violent short lived lava fountains which shine extremely brightly in infrared sensors on space probes, giving them the name ”outburst eruptions”. There have been many of these from Io over the years with some famous examples being from the Surt volcano 2001 that probably produced 200 times more thermal energy than Laki did at its peak. Other famous lava fountain outbursts occured around Pillan many times in the 2010s and a particularly powerful one in late 2020s.

These are indeed immense eruptions compared to what we seen on Earth in the last 100 years of modern equipments. Leilani and Holuhraun who both made more than 1 km3 in a few months with average eruption rates of a few 100 cubic meters a second, but on Io some of these ”pillanian” style eruptions could perhaps produce 100 km3 in a week. The Surt 2001 eruption had an eruption rate that has been estimated at 10 km3 per hour, or even per minute at the opening phase with a rapidly dropping eruption rate afterwards. Many of these powerful fountain eruptions last for weeks or months at different eruption rates shining bright in a spacecrafts sensor. The high temperatures oversaturated Galileos infrared spectrometers giving readings as high as 1800 degrees C. Such high eruption temperatures have today been questioned unless tidal heating from Jupiter is stronger than expected, but the current models on the lava temperatures on Io land more on 1280 to about 1400 degrees C, still very hot. and true 1500C komatiitic temperatures are not impossible as I mentioned earlier in this article.

Pillanian style eruptions are the most violent eruption events in the solar system. Their violence and size comes from two factors. The first is that because the much lower gravity of Io generates less buoyancy forces on magma chambers rising through the Ionian crust, the magma chambers are thought to be much larger than those on Earth, so that eruptions can be far more voluminous. The second factor is of course that far more magma is available on Io, as tidal heating is a superior magma producer compared to Earth’s radioactive and primordial heating. On Earth a volcano with a base supply of just a few cubic meters a second is a real monster like Kilauea, while Io may have some volcanoes with a deep lithospheric supply of perhaps 100 s of cubic meters a second. The larger asthenospheric supplies sets up the stage for frequent large scale fissure volcanism. Io’s vacuum is a factor that makes these eruptions so violent, because the magmatic volatiles degasses violently when they rise towards the surface: an eruption of any size on Io is more violent than an eruption on same size on earth.

Eruptions that have been seen like Tvasthar and Pillan and others around Pillan and Thor volcanoes can erupt astonishing amounts of lava over short timescales. The eruption fissures appear to be many 10s of kilometers long. An imaginary eruption fissure that is 25 km long and even with only 5 cubic meters a second per meter of fissure would produce 1 km3 of lava in just a few hours, with a total eruption rate of 125 thousand cubic meter per second. The Ionian outburst eruptions that have been seen since Galileo appear to be in many 10 s of thousands of cubic meters a second, and perhaps many 100 s of thousands cubic meters a second at start up, to explain the intense thermal radiation. These eruption rates are of course much higher than the magma supply from the Ionian lithosphere so they don’t last very long at such rates.

Eruptions like these will form spectacular curtains of lava fountains, like walls of fire going through the ground for countless miles. The fountains would be large and optically dense meaning the lava clasts heat themselves by their own thermal radiation, forming clastogenic lava flows that rapidly move forward at high speeds, and unlike the slow lava flows of promethean style eruptions here it is a real flood of fire, with lava flowing over the ionian surface in turbulent and laminar flows. With very large amounts of lava rapidly moving over thick deposits of sulfur snow, these ”flood basalts” will create some very violent interaction with a cold icy volatile rich surface, with large phreatic blasts of sulfur gas blowing through the raging lava stream. Such interactions between flood lavas and the cold Ionian surface may result in the formation of rootless cones as seen on recent flood lava flows on Mars when they too quickly flow over an icy volatile rich surface.

Large fissure eruptions on Io also produce a lot of volcanic gas, that expands very quickly in vacuum as it leaves the lava fountains, and tends to form a dome like plume of gas, scattering blue sunlight. It was such a 400 kilometers high blue gas plume that gave Io away as an active world 40 years ago when JPL engineers looked at spacecraft imagery. Such plumes deposits sulfur snow over large areas as the volcanic gases freeze out. Closer to pillanian type eruptions, the lava fountains deposits dark silicate pyroclasts, leaving dark halo like areas on Io. These dark ejecta blankets can cover 10 s to 100 000 s of square kilometers. Large eruptions like these are also having an interesting relationship with Jupiters magnetosphere as charged sulfur and silicate particles that escape gets trapped by Jupiters magnetosphere which funnels them towards Jupiters polar atmosphere where they crash into the upper gas layers and dramatically increase the jovian polar light activity.

The scale of the eruptions thats been observed on Io appear to to be a middle form between Laki and true LIP flows in scale in Earth terms. They are bigger than Laki in volume and speed (50 to over 100 cubic km3) but not as large as true LIP flows on Earth that often have many 1000s of km3 per individual flow. In terms of eruption rates some of these basaltic eruptions are probably at or near LIP scale. We don’t know how LIP flows behaved on Earth, and Io’s ”outburst eruptions” could perhaps teach us. LIP flows on Earth may have had constant eruption rates lasting for decades, but many clues point at real flood basalts being much faster, at least some of them.

Photo by Galileo Spacecraft. Tawhaki Vallis is Io’s largest lava channel at a few 100s of km long, a sign that Io may be capable of eruptions that involve a few 1000s of km3 of basalt.

There are clues that Io can produce and has produced lava flows of perhaps many 1000s of km3 in a single VEI 8 lava flow. A good example of that is Tawhaki Vallis. It is Io’s largest lava channel. It could be a collapsed lava tube, but most likely it is a lava channel due to its morphology and length of a few 100s of kilometers. The eruptions that carved it are definitely larger in scale than the eruption styles that we discussed here. Tawhaki Vallis may have been formed by extremely hot ultramafic lava, that even melts the ground below it, and allows it to be scraped away by the moving lava flow. Such phenomena with violent thermally eroding lava flows are thought to have carved the lava channels on the Moon, Mars and Mercury and best fits an ultramafic temperature of over 1500 degrees C. The high volcanic rates of Io means that surfaces are quickly buried by lava flows and ash, so Tawhaki Vallis is probably no older than a few 1000 s of years. Exploration of Io is just barely over 40 years old by this writing, so we have not seen yet what Io is fully capable of.

Photo: Galileo Spacecraft, showing the eruption of Thor volcano that was probably a larger version of Laki. Like the Pillan eruption was as well, earlier yellow flows are older basalt covered with sulfur snow. How does it look today 20 years later?

8. Summary

Io truly has the most extraordinary features of any moon ever found, giving it the name ”lava planet”. Ionian eruptions are on a really large scale, perhaps showing us how Earth was like in its Hadean youth. Ionian eruptions also shed some light how large prehistoric eruptions behaved on Earth. In general the volcanism on Io is quite similar to Earth’s effusive eruptions, but Ionian volcanoes are much larger and more powerful than the ones on Earth. A surprising amounts of stuff has been learnt about Ionian volcanism, despite the relatively few closeup photos and measurements that have been taken. We need more probes for Io as its pretty much the most exciting place in the solar system. In February 2024 Juno Spacecraft will come as close as 1500 kilometers to Io and should get some very good photos of the volcanic activity, so I’m excited indeed. But we need in reality more probes that are specially engineered for Io. The technology and radiation proofing for that exist, while expensive. I do think the future for Ionian exploration is very bright and hope for more probes and even lander rovers. Having finished this one, I will later make more articles on Individual Ionian volcanoes and eruptions when I have time. Just 60 years ago it was nearly impossible to think that moons like Io and Europa could exist. Nature can create celestial objects that borders on science fiction.

Jesper Sandberg, November 2023


Recommended read: Volcanism on Io: A Comparison with Earth Ashely davies et al.

















199 thoughts on “A ”quick” tour of volcanism on Io

  1. Its over Anakin!! I have the high ground!..

    A New article is up from me

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XXhgrkulhg


      Mustafar ( Io duell ) in 4K and first time I see it in this super high resolution, seeing it in super resolution makes it possible to see details that you coud not see in 2005. The CGI is pretty good for being almost 20 years old now, but the Mustafar volcanism was a complex enviroment to render so some aspects looks pretty aged now as CGI. The eruptions themselves are “sprites” from Etnas 2002 eruption that they pasted in as seperate CGI elements, Lucasfilm was on site when Etna erupted, filming Etnas fountains spared alot of cash and rendering times. The rest of the lava was a “sugar cellulose slime” that they lit by UV light.
      Revenge Of the Sith have many wonderful CGI shots, but Mustafar looks a bit aged now and specialy so in 4K

  2. Lovely article! Closer to home, the magma sill at Svartsengi has now regained its level prior to the start of the latest inflation/deflation events. It will be interesting to see how long it can continue to reinflate before another outflow, and what form that will take.

    • Thanks! there will be more Io articles from me in the near future and shorter too. But this article takes on a very large broad subject so yes lots to talk about : )

  3. This is a great article, Jesper. Fun to see Askja nest to Pele Patera lava lake, with those beautiful fountains.

    On Hawaii news, there is renewed unrest in the SWRZ. Around 22:30 HST yesterday earthquake activity returned to the area under OUTL station (where there was a crisis at 3 HSt yesterday), with 2 or 3 earthquakes per minute visible in the seismic stations, the summit started to deflate at a relatively normal DI event-like speed. The earthquakes have propagated southward 2 km and are still continuing with 1 microradian deflation at the summit. The rest of the SWRZ seems quiet.

    • Thanks! and I will produce more Ionian articles later the next one I plans to start on soon

    • The volcano-tectonic earthquake swarm has stopped and given way to a long-period swarm visible in summit seismometers. Long-period earthquakes were happening about thrice per minute when I last checked. UWE tilt reversed briefly but is now dropping again faster than a usual DI event.

        • Yes. Although this time earthquakes were very strongly clustered around OUTL GPS, and the ongoing long-period swarm follow-up is curious. I think there could have been a bit of magma hemorrhage under OUTL so to speak. Now human seismic pollution has started and is hiding the magma signals.

          • Recently the biggest change was close to the middle and lower SWRZ on stations to the east of the RZ. I’ve posted a graphe in the VC bar.

            I have the impression that the next eruption will need a lot of pressure to succeed. That means, that a great lava fountain or curtain of fire is possible.

  4. College course grade stuff, or better. Right here on VC!

    • Thank you .. yes Io is souch a fun object .. But really needs more probes

  5. Question on where the energy is coming from to heat IO. Is the tidal forces causing internal heating using up IO’s orbital momentum and IO is slowly spiraling in to Jupiter? The heat energy escapes into space, so that energy is lost permanently. We cannot have IO orbiting for billions of years without energy being extracted from some gravitational field? How long can IO continue to be heated this way, before the moon plunges into Jupiter?

    • You right by the second law of thermodynamics the system should not last for ethernity, it will wear out and decay over time. The volcanic heating is from Jupiter and its moons pulling Io into oblivion and pulls it back and fourh from Jupiter

    • The heating comes from tides on Io. The moon has an orbit that is a bit elliptical and during this orbit Io is pushed and pulled by the tidal force, a bit like being in a bread machine. The same force acts on our moon but as it is solid, it doesn’t knead well. Io is partly melted below the crust and this does respond to the tides. Most volcanoes on Io are around the equatorial regions, and not near the poles. This suggests that the melt is not a liquid ocean underneath the entire crust, but mainly at lower latitudes where in fact the tidal force is most effective. As you point out, the heat has to come from an energy source. There are two: orbital motion and rotation. The orbit is actually locked by resonances with the orbits of the other large Jupiter moons, so in the end all the moons help provide energy. And yes, this will slowly (very slowly) change those orbits. But as the orbit changes, the rotation period must also change to keep the rotation locked to Jupiter. If the orbit becomes larger, the rotation has to slow down and this releases energy. It is this energy that drives the volcanoes

    • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/most-volcanic-world-in-solar-system-io-moon-still-mysterious-new-atlas-shows

      3D Model lots lots of volcanoes near the poles too, I think the astenosphere maybe more or less molten, poles are poorly photographed mostly. Io is in resonance Jupiter is pulling it back in and the rest of the moons is pulling it back out, the meatgrinder will keep going for a very very long time perhaps billions of years more

    • The killer volcano ( that wood be earth ) that is Tvashtar Catena is near the poles togther with numerous dark lava seas, so is plenty of activity there too. Some of Io s most nightmarish eruptions been at high latitudes, some of them maybe many Holuhrauns a minute in ejection rates, so Ionian astenosphere is probaly globaly quite liquid, also souch enormous lava lakes even at high latitudes like Dazhbog requires a high melt rate.

  6. Woud be fun to see the Jovian Moons rise a morning, seen from Jupiters tropospause ( If you where down in the atmosphere) Jupiters shadow woud be visible too that it cast itself on the upper atmosphere and the horizon woud be incredibley distant. The jovian ammonia cirrus, cirrustratus 50 km below woud be a smooth beige – white silky plain, going for ethernity litteraly. The morning skies maybe a pale pleasant or just blue.. the air density is not great as far up as this, so woud be very dark blue at noon when scattering is least, but more color at evening and morning. It woud be a very earthlike experience at least visualy the jovian atmosphere and very disturbing knowing there is No surface at all below your feet.

    I often roams Jupiters skies in my daydreams in a gigantic hot hydrogen zeppelin, think hindenburg/ graf zeppelin but on steroids, and I woud best like it old and steampunky : ) rusty copper, brass coloured with lots of rivets visible in it, the retro golden gondola cockpit woud be a spectacular panorama over the jovian cloudscape. The whole rusty retro Zeppelin thing woud have to be absolutely gigantic to have any chance to provide any lift at all, as Jupiters atmosphere above the ammonia cirrus is not very dense, and hydrogen is very light and gravity is high, having it painted with Vantablack coud help it with solar heating and bouyancy, but then it woud be just an ugly pitchblack thing and not steampunk classy. It woud have to have a very complicated extra heating mechanism to allow it to float. Lower down in the cloud layers and below the water clouds it woud be easier with bouyancy as the atmosphere is much denser there, but visibility woud perhaps not be good at all as you are below the 3 cloud layers, and if struck by a lightning bolt thats 1000 times earths strenght the whole thing coud be history. The cold in the upper atmosphere woud suck too

    Suicidal project anyway .. getting there and deploying it and the logistics are Impossible and Impossible to get out later with that gravity well of 2,4g unless the Zeppelin haves an nuclear, fusion powered escape rocket pod

    Gas Giants are hellpits and not any tourist destination

    • Jupiter is freaking absoultely nightmarish I dont know anything in nature thats woud be more scary than a skydiving into a gas giant … it woud look hellish too, specialy so If you dive in a dry ”hotspot” where cloud condensation are not there

    • Rather bottomless is a real definition at Jupiter! as you look down you may see a altocumulus cloud field each cloud lit by the sun, below in the clear gaps there coud be another cumulus field miles below the upper layer looking hazy and less bright. Its likley possible to see 100 s of miles down into gaps, but since sunlight cannot penerate or scatter from a clear jovian depth of view ( as you look down into a clear area into the gas giant ) it woud be an unsettling dark hazy gloom. But clouds woud be very reflective and earthlike and the skies above you woud be blue like Earths dayskies, beacuse of hydrogen that woud scatter into blue, but Jupiter itself woud be a dark gloom and a hazy horizon providing No reflective clouds in a drier area.

      Rather disturbing 😳

    • Apparence of Jupiter at example the Galileo Entry site in 1995 woud depend on direction where you look and how deep down in the atmosphere you are. The skies looking at them woud be blue at 1 bar level, because you are not looking through the planets denser parts. Looking downwards you are looking into the planet itself thats not transparent so Jupiter below woud be disturbing dark pit with a quite clear horizon that woud be fuzzy.

      Visibility towards horizon woud be very good probaly many 100 s of miles and it woud depend how deep into the atmosphere you are with the ammounts rayleigh scattering present. Visibility verticaly down woud be much much less as you look into the non transparrent Jupiter itself, it woud be a dark shadow, Very unearthly and disturbing

      In other areas reflective cloud condensation are present and woud be very much like being above a coud on Earth.

      The dark shadow of Earths atmosphere in this one photo ( If it pops up ) coud be analougus to Jupiters horizon in apparence If you coud see it from inside the atmosphere

    • This is likley analougus to an evening on Jupiter on the 0,5 bar level just above the upper ammonia cirrus, well on Jupiter the horizon woud be even much more distant. Flying at 0,5 bar level with hydrogen thats very light and 2,4g gravity woud be pretty much next to impossible, you woud have to go insanely fast or go 100 kilometers down to denser layers. The moons woud be a pretty sight too in the skies

    • Hydrogen ”air” is very light in terms of pressure/ force it haves on objects in its sourroundings, an hydrogen atmosphere at 1 bar is much much less ”dense” then an Earth type air mix at 1 bar, even If the same number of molecules is present in same imaginary cube box.

      This means you haves to go deeper to get lift, If you wants to fly an aircraft probe on Jupiter, or perhaps go supersonic. I think 1bars in nitrogen in terms of force lift is equal to 20 bars of hydrogen. Galileo Atmospheric probe was crushed at 22 bars and 150 degrees c, flying above the clouds on Jupiter is almost Impossible the gravity is too high and the air is simply too light to have any good lift.

      Deeper down it gets much more soupy and possible but there its getting very hot.

      • I really love your musings on the atmosphere of gas giants, great imagery talking about the unearthly abyss one would see looking straight down from within the atmosphere. Really difficult to even conceptualize because it’s so different from the terrestrial norm. Frightening, in a primal way.

      • Yes weird and scary indeed, If a cloud layer is present it woud be just like being above a cloud layer on Earth, reflective opaque surface so a ”sharp white surface” with blue sky above

        But in a dry area like at the 1995 entry site where No clouds are present, it woud be a dark pit, like a grey menacing shadow If you looked down, there woud still be a fuzzy horizon as Jupiter is inpenetrable and yet not very reflective to light. The skies above woud look just like a sunny day on Earth

      • Yes If you fell into the dry clear 1995 entry site it woud be very much like falling into an abyss a gas ocean, just much better visibility than in any ocean water. Visibility woud depend on reyleigh scattering on how deep in the atmosphere you are. The sun will get redder and redder too, the further down you fall into this ”clear dryspot” hydrogen air streams over you and the further down you falls the denser and hotter the hydrogen enviroment becomes too. The sun maybe visible for a few 100 s of km If the area is free from clouds where you jumped in. It gets darker and darker the further down you go, hotter and hotter and more and more soupy when air pressure increase to 100 s of atmospheres. It woud perhaps get pitch black even in a clear area If you falls 1000 km below the 1 bar level

        But it woud not be black for long .. as the air soup begins to glow red from its own heat in the depths, a orange hot furnace glow woud sourround you and that gets yellow and ultimately brilliant white hot .. If you go deep enough its a super hot enviroment thats almost like an interior of a star.

        Gas Giants are pure hell – pits and not any tourist destination! defentivly terryfying

  7. Will just need to send a few gutted cypertrucks filled with instruments to explpre Io 🙂

    To be honest, I never got why rovers need to be so absurdely slow. Would it not be possible to have the RTG or solar charge a battery? Even if it needs to sit there for a month to charge, the currebt rovers barely move far enough in a month to actyally find something noticeably different from where they were a month ago… An EV with 300 miles of range on Earth would be able to drive at least 1500 miles on Io, and that is at high speed, at say 20 km/hr the range probably triples at least, if not even more with no air resistance. I guess the only problem js what to make the wheels out of but a budget of a few billion should be able to solve that problem…

    Io is definitely in need of a dedicated mission. 🙂

    • For a rover to drive fast, it needs to be controlled by AI; and NASA is working on that. So far, the rovers have been controlled by humans on earth, with long time communication time delays. You can only go as far as the cameras can clearly see between communication cycles.

      • I think Tesla themselves will crack that path way before NASA does. NASA has its place for sure but SLS taking the GDP of a small country and 15 years to get going at 4 billion a piece non reusable, its not impressive. To be honest Tesla self driving would be fine on Io where there arent any other cars or pedestrians so now is just the task of convincing Elon that Io is interesting and its a go 🙂

      • That is not entirely correct. The latest Mars rovers are fairly autonomous. They are given a destination and approximate route and use the on-board software to evaluate what to do and where to go at each point. Whenever they reach a situation where the solution is not clear, they do stop for the day and ask Earth for instructions. Note that 20km/hr is wishful thinking on a rocky plain without roads. The wheels are aluminimum (aluminum in America) and easily damaged by sharp rocks so the rovers are always searching for a clear path between rocks. Where sand is available that is probably preferable. Also note that the the landscape may not change much but there are different rock types available in many places so for the science it is often better to keep the daily movements small. It is science – not tourism.

        • I think science is a sub category of tourism.

          Its the part where you try to figure out what you are seeing.

    • The rovers brain needs to be inside a titanium- lead water Ice jacket box to avoid the worst radiation thats very strong on Io s surface. But its at least not as it is on some Neutron Stars where magnetism forces its trillion times Jupiter, so strong that a rover woud basicaly material wise decompose in minutes

      • Not sure I’d use titanium. It isn’t good in an acidic reducing environment. Io would likely have plenty of gaseous HCl and HF, plus reducing sulfur species. (I’ve dissolved titanium accidentally a few times during experimental chemistry R&D.)

        Teflon would be good, but only at fairly low temperature. For higher temperatures I’d have to look stuff up. Maybe MgO based ceramics. In fact it might be that aluminosilicates that we know so well about in magma compositions might be the best materials of construction to shield a rover.

      • The funny bit about Titanium and Tungsten. Their oxides have no where near the heat resistance or strength. As that surface oxide erodes away, more material is exposed to oxidation…. rinse, repeat, goodbye turbine blade.

        Caveat: I am NOT a materials scientist.

      • Its rather very cold on Io Infact absoutley freezing so you needs rover CPU heater and radiation shield. But its also a vaccum enviroment so the heat is not lost superfast like it woud be at Titan. Only the volcanoes are superhot the rest of Ionian surface are frigid hell, deeply frozen

  8. Thank you for the article Jesper! 🙂

    On this planet;

    Marapi Volcano Volcanic Ash Advisory: HIGH-LEVEL ERUPTION TO FL500 MOV WSW OBS VA DTG: 03/0840Z to 50000 ft (15200 m) The advisory is issued by VAAC Daewin.

    Many reports online of this over the last 1-2 hours now. Search on YT and X gives many recent videoclips of a thick, dense black coloumn. Search Merapi last hour on YT sorts out many loony vids and gives many results picturing the same. No vid link to give as no credible source is out that I have seen.

    • To be clear: the eruption is from Mount Marapi on Sumatra, not Merapi on Java.

      • Thank you Alberto. Many have posted “Merapi” online so that threw me off. Marapi it is.

  9. The blue line in the tremor graphs of GRV, MEH, and other nearby sites has dropped down again, as it did exactly one week ago; and I suspect that it will come back up one day later, which it did before. This is obviously an artificial movement, but does anyone know why it’s happening?

    • Probably the power plant not doing something. Note that the drop down is exactly as large as the 4-daily short dropouts and that it starts at the late-night (7:30pm or so) one on Saturday (in both cases) and ends at that time on Sunday. Whenever there is such a long full-day one, there is no additional dropout during that time. So it is a machine having a Sunday rest.

  10. Already thinking of my next Io article..will be something about the Paterae, not as long as this, and an intresting read too. Io is my favorite object in the solar system as you can figure out by now

  11. I need to make room in my head for all this info! Can’t wait to read this, hopefully tomorrow. 🙂

  12. It has been more than 24 hours at Grindavík (grv) without the 6 hour ‘event’ being visible, with the exception of one instance, being above the baseline. A question which was posed to the X community, from this sites handle, but unfortunately no replies to date. During the same time period something else has also changed, ~ in the last 30ish hours. The weather seems normal. Am just throwing it out there.

    • Uncertainty remains around Grindavik, but the risk for an eruption decreases. They said that inflation continues steadily. Is this the continued formation of a magma chamber?

      Fagradalsfjall is likely going to do its yearly eruption in June, but will we see a secon eruption elsewhere on Iceland?

  13. Jesper. Your unique contributions to this site and community put a very big smile on my face. Please, don’t change. Thank you to the dragons for facilitating. It is special, unique and rewarding on so many levels.

    • Thank you! and will be more Io stuff later from me, volcanism as massive as this is fascinating

  14. Fantastic, great article combining my two favourite subjects space and volcanoes. Well done.

  15. Impressive high-level analysis about Io, Jesper!

    I’m wondering why the silicate magma does both appear on a moon of Jupiter and on Earth? How does the same chemical composition get there and here? Does this show that the pre-planetary nebular was homogenous all the way?

    If so, the gas planets also should have got some silicate molecules, maybe not as dense as the rocky plantes/moons.

    The Moon of Earth during the first millions of years had comparable tidal volcanism like Io. There are both craters by meteorites and by volcanism. But our moon was more close to the sun and has higher temperatures in sunlight than Jupiter’s or even Saturn’s moons. It is difficult to imagine how volcanism works on Io without atmosphere and with extremely low temperatures. The flight of lava bombs/fountains and tephra is different.
    Can CO2 become solid on Io? Mars has solid CO2 (and H2O), so it’s likely that the cold parts of Io host some dry ice (CO2 ice).

    • Thanks! Its a vaccum so lava should cool a bit slower than under an atmosphere that sucks heat away from a lava surface. Once a insulator crust forms on an Io flow the cooling is very similar to Earthly flows. All planets formed from the same nebular mix, so yes basalts should be the rule everywhere in the solar system when you melts planetary materials as seen with Io.

      Water and cO2 have mostly been lost from Io .. Io is too small to grab on them and the obese mass that is Jupiters gravity sucks away all the ligther volcanic gases from Io. Io is also too cold and yes too small to have any dense atmosphere, volcanic gases tends to freeze out as snow.

      Jupiter have certainly feed alot to grow that enormous as it is, and there is probaly 15 to over 30 Earth masses of iron sillicates hidden inside Jupiters center area. There will be more Io articles from me later .. the planetary object that I finds most fun

    • But the melt rates in Io s mantle are very high, almost certainly higher than on Earths, In Io more of the pedriotite goes into making magma, so the lava composition coud be more mafic than we have here on Earth as the same raw materials experience more melting on Io. Ionian magmas coud be ultramafic and the contested superhigh temperatures coud be proof of that when more correct measurements are made. The confirmed Ionian lava temperatures are already on the edge of being too hot for being basalt

      • Has Io a convection system inside the mantle? As far I’ve seen, it has an Iron core like moon Europa Earth and Earth’s Moon. There should be a heat source inside Io, but it looks like the Gravity force of Jupiter is dominating. Jupiter would likely have a similar huge impact on Earth (if Earth were a moon of Jupiter) and would fuel volcanism heavily.

      • The Galilean Moons are small enough that own heating are relativly minior compared to tidal heating, Even Mars thats much larger struggle with geological activity as it too have cooled alot , but its big enough for infrequent volcanism.

        Ionian deep interior maybe able to get up to around 2000 c but most of the heating is very close to the surface in the astenosphere that maybe 1500 c or more. Io s astenosphere are defentivly much hotter than Earths to explain the high eruption rates on Io. But it cannot be insanely high either because then you woud melt the moon entirely. Io probaly have some kind of mantle convection…because its very hot and should be very ductile plastic interior, perhaps it explains the Ionian faulting tectonics.

        Io is hot enough that it vents most of its heat through eruptions and lava lakes thats churning rather than non eruptive Litosphere conduction.

        Earth haves a much hotter deeper interior than Io does because we are much larger, but we are not at all as hot in the shallow depths as Io is

      • Earth woud need a few Super Earths thats somewhat larger than Earth placed further out to make an Io tidal situation If Jupiter was placed in the habitable zone. Earth by itself is pretty massive so it maybe barely possible, but Jupiter is dam huge too 317 Earth masses

        I doubt that most of its immense mass is just hydrogen they say it haves a very large core now according to Juno so Jupiter probaly swallowed countless of Super Earths in its youth.

  16. 3 flashing lighted vehicles are inspecting something in the sticks to the East of road 43 about 2 km North x Northwest of Grindavik. More vehicles arriving via road 43 (main road North out of Grindavik).

  17. The vehicles are parked right about where a 2.06 EQ was located about 30 min ago — which is most likely a coincidence. 63.858039, -22.415787 near as I can tell. Seeing this on the Grindavík – Húsafjall cam.

    • Appears they’re blocking access to that portion of road 43 from the North and South. Haven’t seen any indication of an eruption or vent, so it’s probably very temporary and just-in-case.

      • About 300 m North of the greenhouse, is my latest fix on the activity.

  18. Odd you should be mentioning Grindavik. I was idly watching the static webcam just now, and there seemed to be a number of cars rushing out of the town and heading west. One was going so fast he overtook others.
    Idle gossip, but I’ll watch a bit more….

  19. Now there’s just an unblinking light. Maybe they’re looking at damaged utility lines or something. Or are starting a lava barricade there. Sure looked urgent when they approached that site though. Couple of those vehicles were moving pretty quick.

  20. Yup. Looks like dirt work. Surprising they floor’d it to get there though. Or maybe they’re setting up their raid on the greenhouse. Score some of that primo-grade barley.

    • Looks like it’s where the Hilina Slump is sliding. So probably more related to movement along those faults rather than magmatic.

    • Historically major earthquakes preceded sometimes eruptions. Big intrusions can change/shift the tectonical setting. F.e. the M7.7 Kalapana earthquake 1975 preceded Mauna Loa’s summit eruption. 2018 an earthquake with M6.9 happened during the first days of Kilauea’s LERZ eruption.

      • A mag 5 isnt big enough to have that affect directly but it is interesting, maybe a sign the blockage in the ERZ is about to give way. That could be a disaster, the ERZ has been slowly sliding seaward after 2018 but with no magma flow behind it. So if the rift opens then pressure could go all the way down into Puna again.

        Alternatively it could be the SWRZ pushing on the south flank at a sort of angle to the norm.

        • A blockade in the ERZ lower conduit is tought to be why Puu Oo s supply keept going for decades at that location, it woud probaly keept going even without at supply rates. The 2018 magma overflow in the system caused the system to burst and that plug was destroyed and Puu Oo and Halemaumau s shallow 2018 stuff was drained out at Fissure 8

        • It could also mean that the strong eastward push of land due to recent intrusions causes tectonical stress. It is like the earthquakes around Kleifarvatn because of Grindavik’s intrusions.

        • What would the precursors to another 1868 Wood Valley EQ look like? The extremist in me wonders if we’re experiencing the prelims now, but the cynic says that there’s no way of telling–that every event is unique, one melanin-enhanced cygnet after another.

  21. Planning my next Io article …will be about an intresting subject

  22. I’m calling it, Chiles-Cerro Negro is going to erupt sometime over the next year unless the intrusion ends in a couple of months, I can’t see the volcano not erupting.
    1. Fluid-based earthquakes increased in November with over a thousand LP, VLP, and 5 episodes of persistent long- tremor. In the past couple of weeks, hybrid quakes have also increased 2-6 km below the summit, so many of these are happening above sea level. Something is on the move, it might be magma or hydrothermal fluid but something is moving up.
    2. Another Uplift spike is happening now similar to the one preceding this year’s seismic crisis, so another seismic crisis on top of the moderate swarm could be just a couple of months away. 3 swarms in 1 year, that’s not a good sign! I know none of you are conspiratorial but think about this situation with the IGEPN. Since the 2022 swarm started, they’ve been reporting on this volcano less and less. Does that make any sense? First, they stopped publishing monthly reports, and closed access to the GPS data, then they locked their earthquake map behind a institutional wall, their seismograms are down and have been for 2 months with no explanation and now, they’ve released NOTHING about the volcano in almost 3 months as the volcano experiences significant changes including the possibility of ascending magma and upcoming hydrothermal system! If it wasn’t for the SGC, none of this data would be known to the public. Why in the world would the IGEPN refuse to do their damn job concerning this volcano? If it isn’t malice, this EXTREME stupidity.

    • It is not malice and it is NOT extreme stupidity. By withholding information from an ever increasing illiterate and unknowledgable of scientific data people, I believe that there has been an amplification of fear and overreaction, even hysteria, in the general population when some volcanic event of significance is starting to occur. Cognizant of this, the professional organizations are keeping information more and more to themselves in order to prevent panic in the general population. We saw this very recently btw.

      • The volcano is not the property of scientists, it is a very real tangible natural threat to the people of Ecuador and Colombia and it is the IGEPN’s duty to make sure that the public is informed about the volcano. Under no circumstances should scientists deny the public information about a potential disaster to prevent “Hysteria”. Shall the NHC not release any data about a hurricane for fear of hysteria? I have yet to see a grand scene of mass hysteria from the prospect of a future volcanic eruption so I don’t know what situations you’re talking about.
        Any agency that monitors natural hazards is there to serve and provide information, nothing less.

      • You said,……. the professional organizations are keeping information more and more to themselves in order to prevent panic in the general population.

        Over 20 people died the other day because they were hiking a volcano while having no knowledge of what could, and did, happen to them. A little dose of fear or panic could have saved their lives.

        • Sorry, that was a reply to Randall.

          If of course they had been warned that there was unrest in the volcanic area and NOT to hike up the volcano then I retract my statement.

          • My understanding is that Marapi was on an enhanced warning level (level 3 of 4) since a January outburst. The advice was not to climb the summit. However, this ban or warning had been in place for quite some time and was not or was no longer being enforced by the local authorities.

          • Latest on GVP is that the alert level was 2 and the public advised to stay more than 3km away from the crater (March 2023).

            The latest press release has the volcano on level 2 Waspada but the home page has it on level 3 Siaga.

          • Correction:

            Merapi is on level III

            Marapi is on level II

            Off to get my eyes checked ….

        • The professional organizations have the duty and mission to warn everyone who
          s possibly affected by volcanic eruptions, explosions and unrest. Sometimes the warning management is not well established. They have to link the emergency/warning management well to the observing/monitoring of volcanoes and other potential natural disasters.

          They don’t have to publish the data online, but have to publish adequate warnings and significant informations.

          • That’s the issue, they’ve not only withheld data but they stopped reporting on the volcano. The only reason why I can even talk about this volcano is thanks to the SGC and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able talk about the volcano at all.

          • Emergency management and reporting is the core task of volcano observatories. If they don’t do that, they fail their whole mission. They get public money from government and by taxes, so they have public duties.

        • Alice:
          I guess my reply was too general. I should have said professional organizations are keeping certain scientific data to themselves now which could be miscontrued by the general population upon explanation by ad-hoc individuals in the past. We’ve seen the panic videos posted on youtube about the impending Iceland fissure eruptions in the past.

          • Indeed I do agree with you on that Randell. My nephew living in the east of Europe messaged me asking if it was true that any future eruption on Reykjanes could impact the whole of Europe, as he had read in a newspaper. He knows I have an interest in Icelandic volcanoes. It didnt take long, despite me not being any sort of expert, for me to inform he that what he had read was just panic-mongering.

  23. Tallis..many thanks for the update and all the information you have gathered over the years on CCN.
    I think that Randall has a very valid point however. This has become a feature of the post Internet world, where previously data was discussed amongst a relatively small group of people (scientists, politicians, relevant agencies etc) nowadays it can be thrown open to the entire online world.
    It seems that it comes down to trust in governance. If the population potentially effected do not trust that their leaders and scientists will inform them and ensure their safety, then there will be a political pressure on those agencies to reduce access to data, information etc, as there could easily be malicious misinformation and unnecessary panic.
    Or else they are not confident in their mandate for political power etc.
    But of course there is also, nowadays, a media hysteria about virtually anything deemed worthy of attracting adverts, so there could easily be a furore and consequently a breakdown in governance which would be in nobodies interests, particularly if a disaster is actually possible/imminent.
    Accurate, honest discourse is something, as a global, society we have to develop

    • Let’s not forget that the only reason why this blog exists and thrives is due to the easy-to-access information and communication. 100% Honest discourse on any platform where there are large amounts of people is an impossibility. It’s not the systems that are broken, it’s the people.
      Am I the only one who thinks what the IGPEN is doing is wrong? I don’t care if Chiles-Cerro Negro was going to produce a VEI 10, they should report it, hysteria be damned. Each one of those scientists at the IGEPN made a promise to be transparent and effective on the volcanoes they monitor and they’re not upholding it. This isn’t some fun tourist volcano, this volcano has the potential to kill, and if people aren’t aware of the increasing activity, they might get caught off guard. If the INGV can give consistent and comprehensive reports on a volcano where mass hysteria is infinitely more likely then the IGEPN can do it too. It is their duty to provide the public with data and reports because this volcano could erupt and kill in a minute.
      even if I am wrong about everything I’ve said about this volcano, a VEI 4 could still kill hundreds or even thousands if not handled well. Let me just ask, what hysteria is the IGEPN trying to avoid? This volcano is not widely known nor is it considered a caldera candidate by the scientific community, it has received no major news attention, and to the public it’s just a typical volcano. A lot of people on this blog are split on my opinions on this volcano. In fact, I am the only one who is talking about this volcano like it is a big deal. I

      • Tallis..I don’t think you’re wrong to highlight the dangers of CCN and what you see as negligence at IGEPN. But using pejorative language (calling them out as stupid or dishonest) probably won’t help you, or the message you are trying to convey however correct you are.

      • It does appear to me that the public are receiving sufficient information regarding the situation at the moment. The page I extracted the following from is easily accessible to the public.

        • Natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions cannot be predicted, so permanent instrumental monitoring of a volcano is the best way to learn about the evolution of volcanic activity. It is recommended to stay informed through the official sources in charge of this work.
        • The fumarolic fields of Aguas Hediondas and El Hondón have high temperatures, high toxicity and potentially phreatic explosions could occur (abrupt release of water vapor). These phenomena are sudden and unpredictable. For this reason and to avoid serious accidents, and even fatal ones, it is recommended to respect the existing access restriction when approaching the emission points of the hot springs.

        They also add a link for the public to access.

        For more information on the phenomenon, consult the link below: https://www.igepn.edu.ec/publicaciones-para-la-comunidad/comunidad-espanol/21957-fluidos-volcanicos-aguas-termales-y-gas/

        • However I just followed that link….. Which is inaccessable for various reasons!

      • I can find lots of info on Chiles-Cerro Negro both in IGEPN and SGC websites.

        Perhaps the most pertinent fact is that apart from the 1936 eruption, which have been Revendator, nothing has occurred in the last 160,000 years. It looks as though the complex is a Pleistocene one which is reawakening, if the swarms from 2014 onwards are anything to go by. There isn’t a lot to go on to predict how the next eruption will behave.

        Not great if you have to manage the risk.

      • Tallis, when the Canary Island’s fissure eruption eruption was going on on La Palma, I made several attempts to contact the official govt agencies in charge of monitoring the volcanics and tectonics. For example one of their webpages showed the round off effect and so all the earthquake depths were only showing up at certain depths. The public miscontrued this and wondered if something else was happening. I attempted to reach the people in charge to ask them to NOT round off the epicenter depth, but never got a reply back. This also happened in the Azores too, so care is required when website data is public.
        I too would like more openness, if possible, but also the public needs to be better educated too.

        • The greatest problem now though in the age of the internet and the untill now ease of obtaining information,the deliberate blocking of the same gives space and oxygen to ever wilder speculation and conspiracy/ paranoia rumour mongering without any trusted source to counter it. To my view it would be wiser to make as much information as possible available, this gives trusted organisations ammunition to counter the wild speculation of the lunatic fringe.

    • There could easily be malicious misinformation and unnecessary panic.

      Misinformation thrives in darkness. Hiding data and not publicly discussing something doesn’t quell misinformation, it creates a breeding ground for rumors and suspicion.

      I have to agree with Rockwell. To minimize misinformation we need more data, not less, from IGEPN and also from the IMO and any other organizations that have been becoming less open with their data.

      Secrecy is the surest way to breed mistrust: “what are you hiding?”

      • Broadly I agree with you..but more specifically I agree with Volcanophil above “They don’t have to publish the data online, but have to publish adequate warnings and significant informations”.

  24. China is recently hoarding gold reserves a lot. It could be an indicator that a “political volcano” could erupt next year around Taiwan, because Russia used the same strategy before the Ukraine war.

    • Well, that tears it.

      *liquidates entire retirement fund*

      Uhm, anyone here have a spare fallout shelter they’re willing to part with?

    • Thank you for that info Boogah. Sl lovely to see the wildlife close up like that, I saw one on the Fagradalsfjall cam at the last eruption but it was too far away to enjoy. This one was a beauty and very well fed by the looks of it.

    • Maybe he was after those 3 Iceland sheep that I’ve seen 2 or 3 times on the Litli-Hrutur camera? The sheep come up to the camera, stare into it awhile, then move on.

      • Haha Randall. In his dreams for sure. In reality what I have read of the diet of an arctic fox is that they will eat carrion, so a dead sheep wuould be a welcome bonus. Otherwise a goose maybe and anything smaller it can get it’s teeth into, including worms and shellfish. Do they have lemmings in Iceland? Apparently they and other rodents are tasty morsels.

  25. The GTA 6 trailer looks fun:) these vitrual worlds have reached an incredible insane detail level with more and more powerful consoles and gaming computers..

    Only thing thats lacking is a parody on the Big Island of Hawaii as a future gta game, with Kilauea doing random AI eruptions that reforms the landscapes and that each eruption looks diffrent each time. But at over 10 000 square kilometers it woud be impossible to render a Big Island of Hawaii with souch detail levels, avarge computers are not yet strong enough for that.

    Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 will also be INSANE the whole world in detail .. althrough not as high detail as GTA6. Still I will fly over Holuhraun 2014 eruption site and Kilauea Leilani vents when I gets MFS2024

    • An GTA Iceland woud be fun too, less vegitation to render, but sadely an even much larger map, ultrarealistic lava and AI eruption woud be taxing as hell on computer software..

      Still Flight Simulator 2024 will be pure bliss to fly over Icelands volcanoes and Iceland rendered in full size and in quite awsome detail. Will attempt a landing in Grimsvotns caldera and the volumetric clouds are incredible too. I will also fly over Wrangell and Denali when it comes out .. will be the largest world game map ever

    • Flight Simulator X ( 2006 ) was a pain in the hell for computers, because it had to render everything for itself, even at 4 cores my computer died totaly trying it at higher detail settings. Higher settings can be runned on lower pixel resolutions as strategy. But even on MAX settings and high res the strongest computers will struggle today

      Flight Simulator 2024 is defentivly one world away in graphics and scale, but alot of that is rendered by servers so should not be that hell demanding, but you should have still a very strong computer ( 7 to 8 cores ) will be recommemded for having a really fabulous experience. I Will defentivly try it as I have a strong computer. I will visit volcanoes defentivly and fly all
      around the planet and into live 3D hurricanes. It will be mad graphics

      • I have now updgraded my gaming PC .. But despite the ( insane graphics ) MFS2024 should not require a death computer to runn it

        Iceland will be fun to visit as well as Hawaii the volcanoes

  26. Hello
    My link to the Icelandic drum plots suddenly doesn’t work 💥 can anybody help?!?🙏

  27. I have three but only 3 links saved.

    The next one I think is somewhere close to Husafel

    And the last was the old one for Fagradsfall that got moved before the lava ate it, so I have no idea where it is but close by.

    Apart from those I am afraid I cannot help.

    • Today RUV reports (based on IMO) that the likelihood of an eruption has decreased significantly. But different risks remain in the area. I’d suppose that earth movements and quakes are enough of a disaster for the local population.

      They compare the behaviour of Svartsengi to Krafla Fires. There were 20 intrusions, but only 9 erupted. The size of lava flows varied a lot. If we look at the Middle Age period, I think it’s likely that Svartsengi only does “real” fissure eruptions or nothing. It won’t do short quick eruptions like Krafla, but Curtains of Fire. Something like Mauna Loa likes to do. Imagine a Curtain of Fire close to Grindavik, that would be a nightmare.

      • Their graphic is very interesting, in retrospect. I took a look at the GPS around Grindavik this morning, but there was no correlation in the elevation data to the one shown in the graphic

  28. Since we’re on interplanetary stuff and volcanoes here’s a neat paper combining the two.

    Proximal ejecta of the Bolaven extraterrestrial impact, southern Laos (4 Dec, via Phys.org)

    From the paper it looks like a quite hefty asteroid landed on Laos 789k years ago. It just happened to land on a basaltic volcanic province that had been active 300 or so millennia before, and after the dust cleared from the impact the volcanic province erupted again and filled the crater – leading to the mystery of where all the impact debris had come from that geologists had previously found splashed about all over SE Asia.

    • Is this the cause of the australasian tektite field? I know they’d been looking for the culprit a long while.

  29. This video has a lot of great drone shots from the relevant area north of Grindavik (Thorbjørn, Blue lagoon, Svartsengi power plant etc.):


    Personally I found it very interesting to observe the area from a lot of other different angles than the ones provided by the static webcams, and it puts the distances between the different objects nicely into perspective.

  30. Mag 4.4 quake at 23 km depth just east of Kilauea, below Volcano. Technically a deep flexure quake but so close to the magma system its hard not to draw a connection.

    This isnt the first strong deep quake in this area in 2023, maybe there is more than a coincidence behind that.

  31. The Fagradalsfjall camera, which has been pointed at Grindavik, is now showing a close view of the power plant. I’ve no idea why. I’ll watch for awhile, hoping it will become obvious.

    • It appears the lights are out at the power plant, but it’s daytime (although this time of year, not really daylight) The radio tower near Grindavik also seems unlit. I’m sure it’s nothing.

    • It was moved earlier in the evening to better show the Aurora active at the time.

      • I saw your response late. You’re correct. They were trying to see the Aurora, and with nothing happening of interest happening on the volcano front, it’s understandable.

  32. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2EKL4yjWtcY

    Nice concept of jovian life that keeps itself bouyant with pure hydrogen bladders, but Jupiters hydrogen – helium mix is very chemicaly reducing and is very light and combined with 2,4 g gravity, so life maybe difficult to stay bouyant and get to evolve at all. Life coud float deeper down, but there the temperatures gets very high.

    Uranus and Neptune are even much more rich in heavy elements and coud be a more likey place for gas giant life and they dont get as hot with depth as quickly as Jupiter does, Neptune and Uranus have their water clouds at 50 bars so will be an easier enviroment to float in and the gravity is same as Earth or less compared to Jupiters massive gravity well

    • The ”Air Sharks” are fun indeed crusing through the immense cloud tops, most life on Jupiter itself IF it exists woud likley never go much above the water vapour cloud layer, the further up you go the colder and thinner the air gets too. The ”giant balloons” that Carl Sagan invented lives at the upper troposphere in the papers but there they will have to get used to – 150 C a temperature thats damaging to to most pretty much all biological structures that use liquid water. Most jovian life woud prefer the warmer layers


    • Jupiter is much closer to the sun than the others, which is important.
      Its atmosphere is turbulent enough and the atmosphere dense enough to consider it more like a liquid in which bacteria-like organisms could be suspended and evolve.
      Its not that cold relatively close to the upper clouds.
      It shows seasonal colour changes.
      Its really really big, lots of chance for evolution.
      I don’t know what the top=level clouds are made of but I would be surprised if there were not some active chemistry (=energy differences) to be utilised.
      IMHO its the most likely place in the solar system to find life.

      • Most likley is probaly a seafloor volcano on Europa to find bacterial life in the jovian system.

        The uppermost clouds on Jupiter are made from frozen ammonia crystals at – 140 C a few 10 s of km below that sits a cloud layer of ammonia sulfides at – 70 C and further go down a few 10 s of km and you finds a water cloud layer at 0 C and 5 atmosphere of pressure.

        Hydrogen is very light compared to any other gas so at the upper ammonia cirrus the air is not very dense at all compared to ours at same pressure. Air density increase fast at depth with more pressure

        • Talking about possible life in those environments is speculative. We have no idea how life starts or what forms it can take. Life can survive on current Earth but it can’t form here. Life on Earth only formed once – all known life has a common ancestor. And it did so in a very different environment to the present Earth. The current main idea is that when life can form, it will, but this assumption lacks evidence. We can talk about organic and prebiotic chemistry, but that is not life. At least not as we know it.

          • My understanding is that simple life (prokaryotic) could easily have formed multiple times very early in the Earth’s history once liquid water was present (then equally likely being wiped out on each occasion by some cosmic disaster or another) as the chemistry/thermodynamic hurdle to the formation of simple life is not a particularly high one.

            Complex life however is a very different matter and it’s appearance on Earth could well be a one off as the confluence of events, the successful merging of different forms of simple life (or viruses) to generate the compartmentalised nature of eukaryotes will require lots of rolling of the dice. Which raises interesting questions about the possibility that intelligent life in the universe could be astonishingly rare.

          • What we know is that all life that exists on Earth has a single origin. Otherwise we would have life of both handedness (only one of two exists), with different aminoacids. Only set exists and all life uses those. One can argue that other life suffered from planet-wide sterilization events (the late heavy bombardment) but that does not answer the point. After the last such event, if life formed so easily, why did only happen once more? I expect there was nothing ‘easy’ about it. Your other point is of course right and well accepted. Complex life took 3-4 billion years to form (why so slow?) and once it formed, was fragile. Not only is it slow to form, once it has formed it is difficult to keep it alive. And the more complex, the more fragile. Humanity is the most complex..I just mention it. As for biological intelligence, we could be the first. And the last?

          • Volcanoes in water are great furnaces of life, cooks up a chemicaly rich enviroment if souch carbon chemicals are there which is the case of solar system rocks as a whole. Microbes coud thrive in volcanic vents on Europa. Woud be fun to know the whole chemical composition of the water

          • Indeed so.
            However it would be a mistake to think that life can only exist following an earthlike format. Indeed even earthlike formats do look quite unlikely given that earth photons with enough energy to form carbohydrate are rare and photosynthesis requires an unlikely quantum mechanical fusing of red and blue photons to work (exceedingly clever). A planet with a lot of UV would be better, of course UV would not be damaging to life that formed in such a situation. It may well be that DNA would drive a wide range of lifeforms, simply because its relatively stable and allows great variability in which case convergent evolution at the molecular scale is not implausible. Its true that since CO2 is a gas and SiO2 really isn’t makes silicon less likely (which is one reason why microchips are made of silicon and not diamond).
            I do have a ‘thing’ about assuming alien life follows earthike patterns and its really the energy flux that life taps, following the entropy adage that the universe seems to like to go from high energy to low energy in as many small steps as possible.
            I suspect earth is very unusual. Big enough to retain an atmosphere but with a strangely shallow amount (probably tethis has something to do with thsi). Most planets big enough probably have atmosphere-size combinations where its thermodynamically impossible to get escape velocities using chemical reactions.

          • Indeed, but we know nothing about non-earthlike life so it again becomes pure speculation. Our life is based on chemistry but is much more than that. Life is complexity: it is about processes which interact and become unpredictable. That could take place in many forms: all that is required is that processes affect each other in a circular way. Chemistry may not be needed at all. But the problem is that this speculation makes no prediction, so we would not know where to look or what to look for, and would not recognize it if we did see it. Bit of a killer, really.

          • reply to albert:
            Yes of course we will have a problem spotting exolife with exotic chemistry. This doesn’t mean its not there. We may be able to spot strange absorbtion lines at high level, I suspect chlorophyll stands out on an earth spectrum. Also the existence of unusual atmospheric chemistry (ie high oxygen or other reactive compound). Perhaps seasonality, and then make a judgement. First we need spectra of multiple exoplanets and a careful examination of different solar planetary environments.

          • Doesn’t it assume again of life as we know it? On Earth, oxygen is a good indicator of something going on. But that is really only in the last 1 billion years. Before that there was little oxygen in our atmosphere. Methane in oxidizing atmospheres is another indicator but this fell flat on Mars where it was detected but it appears there is a chemical source. Life has other energy sources available. Earthly life on Earth may have used H2 as energy source and that would leave little trace. Sulphur is another one – again not one with an easy observable indicator. Isotopic ratios are used to distinguish biotic carbon from non-biotic but this is done in rocks, not atmospheres and it might be specific to our form of life. Sorry for being so difficult! The only search for a strong indicator of distant life is SETI, and there the chance of success is generally seen as low and again it is looking for our kind of signals.

      • How much nuclear spallation/fission happens on Jupiter either by sunrays or by Jupiter’s own system?

        In the Earth’s atmosphere sunreays split Nitrogen atoms into Carbon 14, and the Earth’s Core produces some nuclear fission which supports the conservation of magmatic heat.

        • Jupiter is quite massive and of its 317 Earth masses it coud be 20 Earth masses or more of sillicate earthlike materials in the deep center so yes tremedous internal heating. Among all the planets Jupiter is the largest heat trap of them all. The core been shown to be much more massive than previously imagined

          No Idea how hot the center is and I think none knows, but its certainly not cold ..

          • Do planets like Earth and Jupiter produce heat only by pressure (mass, gravity) or also by nuclear energy? What kind of nuclear energy is produced down there?

          • Decay of radioactive elements release heat and heat trapped from formation. Jupiter being as insanely huge and heavy as it is, is a far larger heat trap then our little earth is. Jupiter may have a kind of strange sillicate magma in the center or it maybe solid under the immense pressure ( the inner core center )

        • IF infant jupiter formed as a planetesimal, it woud have been molten magma and iron as it differentiated forming an Iron center core. Later planetary accreation went nuts swelling it to the monster it is today. It coud have been a Lava – Super Earth before it began to eat all the gas in the solar nebula, the original seed is hidden deep inside and proably so hot now that its not a well defined surface as Juno showed

      • While Earth is way too close to the sun for we to have any more nitrogen pressure anymore denser atmosphere ( we woud get too hot)

        Other exoplanets coud benefit ALOT from having a denser nitrogen atmosphere than we haves for various reasons. 2, 3, ,6, 10 atmospheres why not, souch air density woud increase the habitable zone with its greenhouse effect making colder orbits habitable, and slow spinning and highly tilted worlds coud be viable

        With denser air pressure there is also less oxygen and cO2 needed for it being to be breathable because the partial pressure will be higher 12% O2 is not breathable on Earth during 1 Bar. But during 6 atmospheres of nitrogen it woud be 3 times more breathable than Earths current mix

        Dense air also keeps – equator – pole temperature diffrence much much less than Earths contrasts, so lowland polar landmasses are mild and temperate and habitable. The denser air evens out the equator – pole diffrences, so poles are MUCH warmer than Earths poles and Ice free at sealevel, dense air traps heat better and disturbute its better, while equator are not warmer than Earths, but its poles much warmer.
        The dense atmosphere also traps humidity much better than Earths, its is rainy and humid and that allows enormous rainforests to sprung up on its numerous active protocontinents, poles are thanks to that dense airs greenhouse effect temperate and covered in polar cool rainforests, so is much much more even climate compared to Earths and also much warmer globaly, yet also much milder overall than Earths harsh contrasts. Thinner -aired worlds like Earth can have wide sterile belts–desert zones and polar caps. Pole – Equal Temperature gradients are much even on thick-aired worlds like.

        Dense air yeilds a much more even worldwide climate with milder seasons and warmer poles as it traps heat better on Earth . But it woud not work here on Earth thats stuck in inner habitable zone

        Denser air means also it woud be more breathable and allows brains and muscles to evolve faster

        Its also more easy to develop a technological civilization under more air pressure… things burns hotter and making its easier to produce metals from ore and making iron production easier

        Thats true.. the possiblities are endless

        And a thinner Atmosphere is barely imaginabley on Earth and many exoplanets as good as being habitable. Thinner pressure means a harsher worldwide colder climate and higher oxygen and cO2 levels are needed for animals and plants to breathe. It woud be colder and drier and less friendly for evolution. More air pressure than we have, have many advantages If you are in the correct orbit around a star

      • Earth does not have to be ideal for carbon based life. We are way too stuck with old dogmas that Earth woud be ”ideal for life”

        Some Super Earths IF they are in the correct situation coud be ideal .. better than our planet

        Many Super Earths have a longer lived Sun

        Astronomers look way too much on sunlike stars but sunlike stars are not that common most stars are smaller than the sun, and Infact those are the most common, Super Earths in the outer habitable zone around a larger red dwarf on the border of orange dwarf, souch stars acually shine rather sunlike, just being dimmer overall and having a smaller habitable zone, but worlds with dense nitrogen pressure like some Super Earths may have can orbit further out and stay warm with that density and avoid tidal locking that so many other sunhugging Super Earths suffers from. Complex life seems to take a quite some time to evolve on Earth it took almost 4 billion years! So having a long lived star is crucial to allow life to evolve on Earth it have taken almost Half the suns lifetime thats 10 billion years to get large animals, so all larger stars are out of the question to search for exoplanets they live too shortly.

        Many exoplanets suns is a bit smaller than our sun is K to borderline M dwarf star and that one will live around 500 billion years so thats 50 times longer than our suns entire lifetime! giving plenty of time for complex life to develop on souch planets around souch stars, and beacuse of this fact, Red Dwarf Stars and Orange Dwarf Stars that live much longer than our sun will do are today prime candidates in search of habitable exoplanets among astronomers beacuse of their incredibley long lifetimes, today larger red dwarfs and orange dwarf stars are seen as ”superhabitable stars”

        Super Earths may haves a stronger magnetosphere on Earth that will last longer too

        Having a larger and hotter interior will also cool much slower than Earth will, alot so that means the the geo dynamo will keep going in the core for much much much longer than our own will perhaps 15 times longer or even much much more so due to their slow cooling with it being 7 times the mass of the Earth so results in way slower cooling of the core, having a magnetosphere is crucial to protect the atmosphere from stellar wind erosion that eroded Mars atmosphere away. Super Earths enchanced geomagnetic field will outlast Earths own by alot of billions of years defentivly and its life depends on it.

        Gravity wont be crushing even with 7 Earth masses

        They coud be as heavy as seven Earths, yet you could walk! Surprised? Gravity rises only as the cube root of mass. Also, big worlds aren’t as dense, since they can hang on to more light matter–hydrogen, helium, ice, carbon, quartz. The result? Similar gravities. Saturn’s mass is 110 times Venus’s–and their gravities are both Earthlike! Alien biospheres may roast, freeze, drown, or poison you–but not flatten you.
        The core is quite small for its size and that means less density, and its fast spinn also lowers gravity, and being more rock than metal Many Super Earths may have a lower overall density than Earth haves and results in only marginals higher gravity. This is meant to show that even huge worlds can have supprisingly earthlike gravities

        Super Earths may have more active tectonics than Earth haves

        being a much larger planet will be ideal for keeping Plate Tectonics active, beacuse of a much hotter interior than Earths, The interior retains more heat from formation, and more radioactive decay in a larger planet keeps cooling slower. Plate Tectonics are indeed crucial in recycling Carbon Dioxide and Minerals. On the Larger super Earths, Tectonics are indeed very very lively with a thinner litosphere under more stress that may result in twisted small active hilly landmasses, they may have very fast tectonics indeed, forming an oceanic planet with a chaos of microcontinents, and mountain ranges and volcanoes everywhere. Icelands and New Zeelands everywhere on souch planet. There is Chaos Tectonics in these big oceans. Plate Tectonics is crucial for keeping the CO2 levels stable so biosphere can photosyntesis and breathe. On Super Earths there is plenty of volcanic outgassing and as well as fast subduction may keep the CO2 levels more steady than Earths and avoid snowball events and climate disasters. Tectonics is the planets CO2 thermostat. Super Earths class planets like these maybe ideal at this cO2 recycling with their larger mass and increased geological activity.
        Their volcanoes belch far more cO2 than Earths But the deep seas aborb it quickly but they needs to Belch under their dim sun. They bubbles with volcanoes and tectonics and therefore suffers little swings in climate togther with the insulation of its dense atmosphere. The large deep oceans are useful as well to absorb excess volcanic cO2

        Their highly active tectonics have formed a very diverse enviroment and every continent and landmasses are hilly rugged and active and therefore diverse enviroments and therefore a more rich enviroment for life. Super Earths being hyperactive does not have Earths endless craton interiors, but have highly diverse hilly, rugged volcanic arcs, protocontinents and mountain belts all these enviroments woud be alot more habitable than Earths interior continent plains that results in lower biodiversity here on Earth. Their enormous size and numerous isolated protocontinent clusters and diverse landmasses may allow the evolution of many intelligent life forms and the air pressure is also there … every landmass is lush and fertile.

        They have a denser atmosphere than ours and correct orbit

        Having haves a much denser nitrogen atmosphere than Earth haves, say about 6 atmospheres, and that haves so many advantages in terms of habitability over Earths just 1 bar atmospheric pressure, it keeps a Super Earths – equator – pole temperature diffrence much much less than Earths contrasts, so lowland polar landmasses are mild and temperate and habitable. The denser air evens out the equator – pole diffrences, so the poles are MUCH warmer than Earths poles and Ice free at sealevel, dense air traps heat better and disturbute its better, the equator are not warmer than Earths, but its poles much warmer.
        The dense atmosphere also traps humidity much better than Earths, so they are rainy and humid and that allows enormous rainforests to sprung up on its numerous active protocontinents, poles are thanks to that dense airs greenhouse effect temperate and covered in polar cool rainforests, the worldwide climate is much much more even climate compared to Earths and also much warmer globaly, yet also much milder overall than Earths harsh contrasts. Thinner -aired worlds like Earth can have wide sterile belts–desert zones and polar caps. Pole – Equal Temperature gradients are much even on thick-aired worlds like these and less cO2 is needed too to keep the planet warm too. Much of their Lowlands are tropical rainforests due to greenhouse effect of the dense atmosphere

        Their thick atmosphere is the reason why its even habitable at all in its colder orbit and why its superhabitable compared to Earth, Thick-aired exoplanets like these , with their stronger greenhouse effect, can orbit further out, to balance their greenhouse effect where the zone in which water is liquid (and life can evolve) is much wider. This may not automatically increase the number of such worlds–the match between atmosphere and orbit is still a matter of chance–but rigid formulas declaring outer solar systems totally sterile are just plain wrong. Small red stars, for example, have been misstankenly written off, since their liquid-water zone was so close that tidal drag becomes a problem. But thick-aired worlds could orbit further out with their bonus greenhouse effects, where they run no risk of ending up with one face always to the sun. Super Earths thick air keeps it warm in a cold orbit and despite it recives sligthly less sunlight energy than Earth recives. They needs its dense air to stay warm.

        Their dense atmosphere also makes contents of oxygen and cO2 that woud not be habitable on Earth with 1 bar, very habitable on this scenario with 6 bars of atmosphere pressure . Due to the enormous nutrient poor seas and relativly small landmasses the oxygen maybe % is only 12% and due to erosion weathering cO2 is only 150 ppm…BUT thanks to 6 atmospheric pressure its pressure equalent is 3 times more oxygen than we haves here on Earth and cO2 is equal to 900 PPM with 6 Earth atmospheres of pressure so a thick atmosphere can make an atmosphere composition very habitable .. when it woud not be under lower atmospheric pressures..

        The thick o2 pressure of more nitrogen atmosphere pressure on Super Earths will also supercharge muscles and organs at creatures and even more fuel to fuel evolution or complex life and complex brains even If oxygen is lower than Earths, alien creatures dont need as much red blood cells either with the thick air pressure that increase oxygen density. This rich dense air is the major reason why arieal lifeforms are common too on worlds like this its easier to fly compared to Earths and many of the potential sapient species are flyers thanks to the air density and brain – oxygen ratio. The thick cO2 pressure alos benefits plant growth, but 6 Earth atmospheres are good pressure on their own, having high cO2 and O2 are not very important when you haves a high gas nitrogen pressure that elevates the partial pressure of even small ammounts of cO2 and Oxygen to very habitable levels.

        Here on Earth 6 atmospheres wont work as we are too close to the sun and woud overheat, but Super Earths needs it thats on the outer rim of the habitable zone in a cold zone.

        This is VERY SPECULATIVE but based on real sicence and most Super Earths will not be livable

    • Jupiter is a high gravity well and have the most violent impact events in the solar system. Jovian atmosphere entry takes you up to 60 kilometers a second and thats much much faster than Earths 11 km a second. Scary how the comet shoemaker levy 9 fragments many of them as small as Icon of the seas and as dense as wet snow relased 600 times the worlds nuclear arsenal on entry. the 2009 impactor was large as a shopping center yet.. made a firecloud the size of pacific ocean…

      If Earth hit jupiter at 60 km a second the ammounts of energy released woud be around releasing the energy equivalent to 2,500,000,000,000,000 gigatons followed most likely shortly thereafter by a ~5,000,000 gigaton hydrogen explosion as the enormous heat of the kinetic impact causes Jupiter’s atmosphere to react with the ~1,200 trillion metric tons of Oxygen gas from Earth’s atmosphere. This merger is equalent to 11 months of the suns full, whole total energy output it, woud be much brigther than the sun as well. Jupiter woud be covered in a hot atmosphere of rock vapour for a long time , and possibly the whole Jupiter envelope woud be heated to hotter than most star surface temperatures, Jupiter woud expand in size with the added heat. Due to Earths large size it woud all go in slow motion too if you saw it from perhaps ganymede, so much energy woud likley be released, when earth plows into Jupiter that the moons icey outer mantles woud perhaps liquify and vaporize. Earths life woud be killed as soon as Earth hits the jovian stratospause relasing obsene ammounts of kinetic energy. A white hot blinding tsunami envelope woud spread all over Jupiter. Forces that are diffcult to imagine, but fun to play with

      Planetary formation is an insanely violent process, so violent and energetic that its diffcult for any mind to even imagine souch forces. This scenario happened many times in Jupiters youth when the solar system was young and kaotic and planets where colliding frequently. Jupiters fuzzy dense large core many thinks are the remains of a Super Earth that Jupiter swallowed in the hadean era. We dont have any Super Earths in our solar system, and that is kind of strange, many astronomers blame the early migrating Jupiter of kicking our Super Earths that we may have had, into the sun or out from the solar system. A large planet hitting the sun at 600 km a second.. is even more.. mind difficult to render what it woud be like energy wise

  33. A fascinating world Io. It’s amazing how you can summarize it in a text described in detail. Very fascinating indeed.
    I am convinced that if life exists on Io it must be based on sulfur with extremophilic characteristics to counteract Jupiter’s extreme radiation. But I don’t understand one thing: if Io is subject to the tides and gravitational attraction of Jupiter and the moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede, why does the moon Europa not show characteristics similar to those of Enceladus due to the tides of Io and the other moons ?
    The other moons should also suffer, albeit to a much lesser extent, the effects of the gravitational slingshot, yet they seem as dead as fossils.

    • Europa have water vapour jets and it even probaly have submarine volcanism on the seafloor, the lower gravity at Europa means that the seafloor pressure is about the same as the Mariana trench despite being 100 km deep so water haves contact with the rocky seafloor. On Europa seafloor volcanoes coud be the ideal place for life with warmth and chemical energy.

      On Io the radiation is blocked just a few meters below the surface, its warm and chemical rich so perhaps underground life coud be there too, but too much water have probaly been lost from Io for any subsurface hydrothermal systems to exist today

    • Ionian basalt volcanoes are absolute monsters compared to anything on Earth, Pele Patera woud not be a good thing in Iceland with the massive gas pollution souch a vent woud cause.

      I Will make more articles about Ionian volcanoes soon

    • Enceladus is a much smaller moon so can’t easily be compared to Io or Europa. It also has a much smaller density, therefore a different composition. Europa is more than twice as far from Jupiter as Io, and the tidal force decreases with the third power of the distance. So Europa feels a ten times lower tidal force. For both Europa and Enceladus, the heating is probably caused directly by tides in its ocean rather than Io’s tides in the solid body of the moon

  34. Not 1 week after I complained about the IGEPN not releasing data or reports, they took down the TULM seismogram which isn’t even one of the volcano’s instruments but the regional station. Can I ask what hysteria they are trying to avoid? This swarm is the least energetic of all 5 previous significant swarms. just 60,000 quakes in 4 months which is not a lot for this volcano. This swarm is so significant because it signals the first hydro-thermal disruptions in the system not because it signals an imminent eruption Whatever “hysteria” they’re trying to avoid is definitely for some future swarm that shouldn’t be too far off. Last month’s inflation and LP earthquake spike likely signal another seismic crisis. If it wasn’t for the SGC, I couldn’t talk about the volcano.
    If the IMO stopped reporting quakes and deformation for Katla or Grimsvotn during a period of significant unrest, this blog would rage and wouldn’t be so accepting of the “avoiding hysteria” excuse. Same thing for the USGS and Mt Rainier. Since the Chiles-Cerro Negro doesn’t threaten any European or American people, I guess it just doesn’t matter.

    • Have you tried writing them a little note asking how to get access to the data for research purposes? It might be a way to open up channels of communication. I would steer away from criticism in that case, though, and frame it more as a study.

      • I sent a non-critical email to Patricia Mothes asking about the current situation and I’ve yet to receive a response.
        I’ve tracked this volcano for 10 damn years, and I’ve poured countless hours into researching and analyzing this volcano, waiting for an eruption. Just when an eruption seems a strong possibility, the IGEPN arbitrarily decides that they can’t release any data or reports. What a joke.

        • During the Icelandic eruptions, we also had instrumentation going off-line for extended periods. There were reasons for this but that wasn’t clear to the worldwide watchers. Power was a problem: some dependent on solar power and could fail during poor weather, others required refuelling which was quite a major/expensive effort and was not always possible. Signals dropped out or failed when mobile coverage gave up – in some cases because of the sheer volume of mobile phone in the area. It can be helpful to know why there are outages.

          • When the links first went down, I thought it was either an outage or maintenance but they would always say when a station was down for maintenance. IMO or the USGS would usually acknowledge an outage even though they might not give any reason. When faced with issues, the IMO never stopped giving information about their volcanoes. The problem is that the IGEPN has not commented on Chiles-Cerro Negro in 3 months in conjunction with not releasing any data. They’re acting like the volcano doesn’t even exist, no tweets, no bulletins, no updates, no data, nothing.

  35. Back to Iceland! (Sorry). The Grindavik drumplot chart [ ] is offering some interesting signals. Looks like steam/magma moving? Not quite tornillos. Unless someone is digging up the Bio Plant…

          • I think that these are very small brittle quakes. Magma is still flowing into Svartsengi at a considerable rate and accumulating below Thorbjörn. We are now getting closer to the point at which pressure starts building up and magma is trying to find room.

            If I’m not mistaken, we might see more of this activity and more seismic activity in the next days.

          • Thanks Dirk. My thoughts, too.

            By the way – Dragons. The ‘Like’ button says: “Loading” all the time.

          • Actually, on revisiting it today it is clearly between 9 and 5. So it’s human interference. Looks like you nailed it, Eolienne! Perhaps its vibrations from the defenses being built against lava flows.

          • @Clive. I think you are possibly most correct about the work on the defences causing vibrations, The Meh_highpass is also showing what looks like more possible prolonged tremor and is closer to the defence building so likely on the Grindavik cam it is only picking up the more pronounced noises but both are the same as regards the timing. I was watching the Grindavik chart a lot yesterday and wondering about the ‘noise’ until I realised the timing ways just during daytime.

  36. Busy day at Kilauea. I’ve been making some graphics for my archives with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory data. There have been two seismic sequences highly reminiscent of intrusions, each lasting about an hour, although the second occurs mostly within 8 minutes. The first near OUTL GPS (Outlet station) in the SWRZ, the second near Kokoolau Crater in the ERZ. Both intrusions reached peak rates of at least 6 earthquakes per minute which can be seen in the seismic stations. The OUTL area has been affected by intrusion-like events at least four times this year before, last during December 1-2, when a weaker but much more long-lived intrusion event took place in two phases. I think this is the first Kokoolau intrusion this year, maybe even the first ERZ intrusion since 2018 (at least the first that has a seismic sequence reminiscent of an intrusion). Both are tiny, maybe best described as microintrusions rather than intrusions, I’m coming up with this term which I think I will pick up again. They can be barely distinguished in the tiltmeters, the Outlet event makes a barely perceptible drop in the Uwekahuna tiltmeter (which monitors Halema’uma’u pressure), the Kokoolau event is masked by the pressure drop of a DI event (probably related to internal collapse in the Halema’uma’u magma chamber). The first intrusion happened with the context of magma going into the SWRZ, driving slow continuous inflation and sporadic earthquakes, maybe with some seismically invisible microintrusions into rock that cause tiny drops in the UWE tilt. The inflation later stopped, I think with the DI event start at Halema’uma’u.
    Seismic data:

    Seismic locations:

    Uwekahuna tilt:

    • Looks like ERZ been more or less closed off after the Leilani drainout. Lower and Middle ERZ is basicaly dead in terms of magmatic inflation since a few years back. I think Puu Oo had some magmatic inflation deformation the first years after the Leilani eruption, but that died away as the magma influx focused on the summit stoorage as its been mostly so in recent years

      • Yes, in mid-2020 the ERZ, up until then the main focus of activity, was abandoned in favor of the summit. Probably due to slow spreading, the ERZ has deflated a lot since then and the Middle ERZ seems to have lost more than half the inflation that took place in 2018-2020. That said the Upper ERZ is different as shown by today’s intrusion.

    • The quakes far down the SWRZ near the Kamakaia hills also have been very persistent. Often times the connector goes silent between pulses but the two ends are continuous.

      Maybe it means nothing exactly but if the same logic can be applied to predice rifting cycles in Iceland, to Kilauea, then there is about 200 years of pent up extension at Kamakaia. Maybe more realistically, about 140, 1868 was enormous. But still, at ~5 cm a year that 140 years is going to add to 7 meters. Kamakaia likely spreads much less than that, which is based on Koae spreading rates with a little generosity. But given it has been 200 years and there have been at least two pulses of volcanism in that location in the past 700 years, it wouldnt be so unexpected really.

      I guess it all depends on if the force required to erupt down there is greater than required to reopen the ERZ. I would not bet on the latter though at present.

    • The activity on the Summit and both upper rift zone reminds to periods during the 1970s when Mauna Ulu did breaks and after its life. When Mauna Ulu temporarily or steadily was closed, magma intruded in the high altitude systems of Kilauea like now.

      What’s different now, that the Puu Oo eruption until 2018 and LERZ eruption in 2018 happened at a longer temporal distance to the current development. After Leilani Estates’ eruption there were:
      2018-2020 two years break
      2020-2022 three years of steady lava lake eruptions (filling of the collapse crater)
      2023 onset of episodic summit eruptions.
      Unlike the 1970s summit and SWRZ eruptions we may get a more longterm SWRZ activity that’s different to the short eruptions 1970-1975. The blockage of MERZ appears more stable now than 1970-1975, when it most of the time was open for Mauna Ulu. We are likely going to get a period like 1790-1823. Was the first SWRZ after the collapse 1790 in 1795 or earlier?

    • Many Ionian landscapes maybe identical to Kilauea, same pahoehoe, fissure rows, lava tubes, but pits and vents are off the scale on Io compared to what you find on Kilauea

  37. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3f/Galileo_Probe.jpeg/606px-Galileo_Probe.jpeg

    Its now almost 30 years now since the Galileo Atmospheric Probe fell into Jupiters atmosphere. Its the only object that survived a jovian atmosphere entry. It entered at 50 km per second and was slowed to below 800 km per hour in just 3 minutes. It endured a 230 g deacceleration and a 16 000 C fireball around it. It lasted for around one hour before being destroyed.. it entered Jupiters upper atmosphere along the jovian and in same direction as spinn and jet stream winds to cancel out 10 km a second from 60 km a second resulting in around 50 km a second. Remarkable forces knowing how light and thin the jovian hydrogen air is 200 km above the 1 atmosphere pressure level.

    The probe made the most difficult planetary atmospheric entry ever attempted, entry speeds are very high on Jupiter, due to its deep gravity well. The fireball plasma woud be brigther than the sun upclose when it had its peak heating.

      • Jupiters interior is liquid hydrogen as well, but very hot and conpressed. It woud probaly look like liquid steel If you coud isolate it and If you coud keep it from decompressing into an explosion. Jupiters interior is under immense pressures and temperatures so things gets strange inside there.

        Liquid metallic hydrogen at 20 000 c I imagine being almost like liquid titanium

  38. A lot of SO2 is still coming from Marapi (the degassing volcano in Sumatra). I also noticed that Taal seems a strong permanent degasser now, together with the usual ones like Popocatepetl, Nevado del Ruiz, Dukono, or Sabancaya.


    • That was rather unusual for Marapi, no? I don’t know tons about this volcano, but was a pretty strong hiccup with a column height of 15km, and that it’s rather uncharacteristic.

      • It’s aligned with the Sumatran fault like Toba, it may have similar geochemistry.

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