Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Eruptions of Galilean Moon Io's Pillan Volcanoes From 1996 to 2015

Io: Eruptions at Pillan, and the time evolution of Pele and Pillan from 1996 to 2015


de Pater et al


Observations obtained with the near-infrared camera NIRC2, coupled to the adaptive optics system on the 10-m W.M. Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on 14 August 2007 revealed an active and highly-energetic eruption at Pillan at 245.2 ± 0.7°W and 8.5 ± 0.5°S. A one-temperature blackbody fit to the data revealed a (blackbody) temperature of 840 ± 40 K over an area of 17 km2, with a total power output of ∼500 GW. Using Davies’ (Davies, A.G. [1996]. Icarus 124(1), 45–61) Io Flow Model, we find that the oldest lava present is less than 1-2 h old, having cooled down from the eruption temperature of greater than 1400 K to ∼710 K; this young hot lava suggests that an episode of lava fountaining was underway. In addition to an examination of this eruption, we present data of the Pele and Pillan volcanoes obtained with the same instrument and telescope from 2002 through 2015. These data reveal another eruption at Pillan on UT 28 June 2010. Model fits to this eruption yield a blackbody temperature of 600–700 K over an area of ∼60 km2, radiating over 600 GW. On UT 18 February 2015 an energetic eruption was captured by the InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF) via mutual event occultations. The eruption took place at 242.7 ± 1°W and 12.4 ± 1°S, i.e., in the eastern part of Pillan Patera. Subsequent observations showed a gradual decrease in the intensity of the eruption. Images obtained with the Keck telescope on 31 March and 5 May 2015 revealed that the locations of the eruption had shifted by 120–160 km to the NW.

In contrast to the episodicity of Pillan, Pele has been persistent, observed in every appropriate 4.7 μm observation. Pele was remarkably consistent in its thermal emission from the Galileo era through February 2002, when a blackbody temperature of 940 ± 40 K and an area of 6.5 km2 was measured. Since that time, however, the radiant flux from what is likely a apparently large, overturning lava lake has gradually subsided over the next decade by a factor of ∼4, while the location of the thermal source was moving back and forth between areas roughly ∼100 km to the W of the 2002 location and an area roughly ∼100 km to the SE of the 2002 location.

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