How are mountains formed on Io?

How are mountains formed on Io?

Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io is full of secrets. The mountains on its surface have puzzled scientists for many decades, since they are not like earthly ones.

On Earth, we see whole mountain ranges stretching for a thousand miles. But on Io, more than 100 cataloged mountains rise in isolation. What kind of mysterious tectonic forces make them?

Io is so active that it is difficult to observe his tectonics from space; molten lava covers its surface at an incredible speed of up to five inches per decade. Thus, to answer this question, a new study uses computer simulation to understand some things.

How are mountains formed on Io?

A close-up image of the Mongibello Mons mountain at sunset. The mountain is about 6 km (5 miles) high. Io also has mountains that rise to a height of 10 miles.

"The planetary community believes that the mountains on Io can be formed thanks to constant eruptions on its surface," said lead author William McKinnon, a planetary scientist at the University of Washington in St. Louis, in a statement

"All the lava that erupts onto the surface pushes the surface material back down. But since Io is a sphere, eventually the compressing forces begin to increase with depth." The new work models this hypothesis, but focuses attention on the fact that compression Io becomes stronger as you dive into the depths. This creates tremendous tension deep inside Io, breaking the surface. Through these faults, lava erupts to the surface, forming rocks. Scientists also suggest that this may explain why so many recent eruptions were discovered near the mountains.

How are mountains formed on Io?

The southern polar region of Io, captured by the Voyager-1 spacecraft. It includes the mountain Haemus Mons, which rises to a height of 10 km (32,000 feet).

"The forces, which are compressed deep in Io's bark, are incredibly high," said McKinnon. "When these forces deform the surface, they are released, providing a path for magma to erupt."

The simulation also explains why some of the mountains on Io collapse over time. This is due to the fact that the lava inside the crust creates both compression and high temperature. Increased pressure and temperature accumulates, causing the mountains to collapse due to stress. This is especially true for extinct volcanoes.

The work was published in Nature Geoscience.

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