Tags: io | mountains | jupiter | moon

Io's Mountains Jut Up Because Jupiter Moon Has Cool Volcanoes

Image: Io's Mountains Jut Up Because Jupiter Moon Has Cool Volcanoes
 (NASA)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 May 2016 10:11 AM

The mountains jutting straight up on Jupiter's moon Io formed through an unusual volcanic process, and a new study is helping scientists understand how it all went down, or up.

The mountains rise in isolated blocks as high as 10 miles, rather than in ranges like the mountains on Earth, noted Christian Science Monitor

Io's mountains are squeezed upward as pressure builds on the moon's crust, Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis discovered after taking a different approach to studying the mountains by looking at the moon's volcanic processes rather than the mountains themselves.

"The findings demonstrate that rather than being just a product of volcanic activity, as previous hypotheses thought, the mountains are actually a key part of the volcanic cooling process for the world. As they form they relieve the stress in the area allowing magma to flow," The Christian Science Monitor explained.

"If we didn't see it on Io we wouldn’t believe those things could happen elsewhere," lead author of the study Michael T. Bland told the publication.

Io's mountains are the tallest in the solar system, reaching heights nearly double the 5.5 mile height of Mount Everest, The Daily Mail reported.

"Io's mountain's aren't volcanoes, but they ultimately result from volcanism," Bland told The Daily Mail. "Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System, and its surface is constantly being coated with volcanic material,"

As magma rises to the moon's surface, it pushes the surface deeper, generating areas of high stress. This causes rock from the moon's interior to break and squeeze upward. The researchers used a numerical experiment to simulate the squeezing, adding more pressure at deeper levels, Science Daily reported.

The study revealed that Io's mountains and volcanoes are anti-correlated, which study co-author William McKinnon described as "a peculiarity of Io."

"As long as the volcanoes are erupting, they carry this heat away and thermal stresses are low, reducing the likelihood of mountain formation. But if volcanism stops, the crust heats up, thermal stresses increase, and mountain formation becomes more likely," the report said, via Science Daily.

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The mountains jutting straight up on Jupiter's moon Io formed through an unusual volcanic process, and a new study is helping scientists understand how it all went down, or up.
io, mountains, jupiter, moon
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2016-11-18
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 10:11 AM
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