Feeds

Jupiter's Io a hotbed of lava

Moon's OCEAN of MAGMA drives spectacular volcanism

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Scientists perusing data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft have concluded that the spectacular volcanism displayed by Jupiter's moon Io is caused by a substantial subsurface magma ocean.

A team from the University of California and the University of Michigan looked at "unexplained signatures [which] appeared in magnetic field data from Galileo flybys of Io in October 1999 and February 2000".

These signatures suggested the presence of "ultramafic" igneous rocks, which are "capable of carrying substantial electrical current when melted". NASA explains: "Tests showed that the signatures detected by Galileo were consistent with a rock such as lherzolite, an igneous rock rich in silicates of magnesium and iron found in Spitzbergen, Norway."

The scientists have estimated that Io's magma ocean is some 50km (30 miles) thick, and bubbling away at a temperature above 1,200°C. Its presence under a low-density crust of around 30 to 50km (20 to 30 miles) explains why the moon's volcanoes are dotted all over its surface, rather than in "localised hotspots" as happens at the boundaries of Earth's tectonic plates.

NASA image of Io

Torrence Johnson, a former Galileo project scientist, said of Io's hotbed of lava: "It has been suggested that both the Earth and its moon may have had similar magma oceans billions of years ago at the time of their formation, but they have long since cooled.

"Io's volcanism informs us how volcanoes work and provides a window in time to styles of volcanic activity that may have occurred on the Earth and moon during their earliest history," Johnson said.

The findings are published in this week's Science (subscription required for the full-fat article). ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.