Prometheus: Io's Wandering Plume

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Science  19 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5469, pp. 1204-1208
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5469.1204

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Unlike any volcanic behavior ever observed on Earth, the plume from Prometheus on Io has wandered 75 to 95 kilometers west over the last 20 years since it was first discovered by Voyager and more recently observed by Galileo. Despite the source motion, the geometric and optical properties of the plume have remained constant. We propose that this can be explained by vaporization of a sulfur dioxide and/or sulfur “snowfield” over which a lava flow is moving. Eruption of a boundary-layer slurry through a rootless conduit with sonic conditions at the intake of the melted snow can account for the constancy of plume properties.

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