It's Gonna Blow! Giant Volcano on Jupiter Moon Could Erupt Any Day

Space.com | 9/19/2019 | Mike Wall
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The biggest volcano on the Jupiter moon Io should erupt any day now, a new study suggests.

Loki Patera, a 125-mile-wide (200 kilometers) lava lake on the most volcanically active body in the solar system, has had fairly regular activity over the past few decades. And it's due for an outburst very soon.

Behavior - Loki - September - Time - Meeting

"If this behavior remains the same, Loki should erupt in September 2019, around the same time as the EPSC-DPS meeting in Geneva," Julie Rathbun, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said in a statement yesterday (Sept. 17). "We correctly predicted that the last eruption would occur in May of 2018."

Related: Amazing Photos: Jupiter's Volcanic Moon Io

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EPSC-DPS is a joint conference held by the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, and it's going on now. Rathbun presented the new results at the meeting yesterday.

Scientists - Loki - Patera - Outbursts - Explanation

Scientists aren't sure what drives Loki Patera's outbursts, but the leading explanation posits a process very different than what's behind typical volcanic eruptions here on Earth: The top layer of Loki Patera solidifies, then falls into the still-liquid portion below.

And the intrigue surrounding Loki Patera doesn't stop there; the periodicity of the lake's eruptions has changed over the decades as well. The outbursts occurred every 540 Earth days or so in the 1990s. The periodic behavior seemed to stop in the early 2000s but reappeared around 2013, with...
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