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The Mountains of Io: Global and Geological Perspectives from Voyager and GalileoTo search for local and global scale geologic associations that may be related to the internal dynamics of Io, we have completed a global catalog of all mountains and volcanic centers. We have identified 115 mountain structures (covering approx. 3% of the surface) and 541 volcanic centers, including paterae (calderas and dark spots) and shield volcanoes. The average length of an Ionian mountain is 157 km, with the longest being 570 km. The mean height of Ionian mountains is 6.3 km, and the highest known mountain is Boosaule Montes (17.5 +/- 3 km). Five basic morphologic types of mountains have been identified; mesa, plateau peak, ridge, and massif. Very few mountains bear any physical similarity. to classic volcanic landforms, but many resemble flatiron mountains on Earth and are interpreted as tilted crustal blocks. This would be consistent with the hypothesis that most mountains are thrust blocks formed as a result of compressive stresses built up in the lower crust due to the global subsidence of volcanic layers as they are buried over time. More than one mechanism may be responsible for all Ionian mountains, however. The proximity of some mountains to paterae may indicate a direct link between some mountains and volcanism, although it is not always clear which came first. In contrast to earlier studies, a pronounced bimodal pattern is observed in the global distribution of both mountains and volcanic centers. The regions of highest areal densities of volcanic centers are near the sub- and anti-Jovian regions, but are offset roughly 90deg in longitude from the two, regions of greatest concentration of mountains. This anticorrelation may indicate the overprinting of a second stress field on the global compressive stresses due to subsidence. The bimodal distribution of volcanic centers and mountains is consistent with models of asthenospheric tidal heating and internal convection developed by Tackley et al.Over regions of mantle upwelling, compressive stresses in the lower crust induced by global subsidence might be reduced, encouraging volcanism and discouraging mountain building. In regions of mantle downwelling, these compressive stresses in the lower crust might be increased, discouraging volcanism and encouraging mountain building. Alternatively, the global pattern may be related to possible (but undocumented) nonsynchronous rotation of lo, which would produce two regions each of compression and extension in the crust. Evidence of layering and of mass wasting, including landslides, block sliding, debris aprons and downslope creep, on Ionian mountains suggests that the crust of Io is essentially a layered stack of partially consolidated volcanic lavas and plume deposits, becoming more consolidated with depth. The lower crust especially may also be ductily deformed, punctuated by volcanic intrusions and faulting at paterae, and broken into blocks, some of which have been uplifted to form mountains.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Schenk, Paul (Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX United States)
Hargitai, Henrik (Eoetvoes Lorand Univ. Budapest, Hungary)
Wilson, Ronda (Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX United States)
McEwen, Alfred (Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ United States)
Thomas, Peter (Cornell Univ. Ithaca, NY United States)
Bredekamp, Joe
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
December 25, 2001
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume: 106
Issue: E12
ISSN: 0148-0227
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits