The Galileo mission has revealed remarkable evidence of mass movement and landform degradation on Io. We recognize four major slope types observed on a number of intermediate resolution (~250 m pixel-1) images and several additional textures on very high resolution (~10 m pixel-1) images. Slopes and scarps on Io often show evidence of erosion, seen in the simplest form as alcove-carving slumps and slides at all scales. Many of the mass movement deposits on Io are probably mostly the consequence of block release and brittle slope failure. Sputtering plays no significant role. Sapping as envisioned by McCauley et al.  remains viable. We speculate that alcove-lined canyons seen in one observation and lobed deposits seen along the bases of scarps in several locations may reflect the plastic deformation and ``glacial'' flow of interstitial volatiles (e.g., SO2) heated by locally high geothermal energy to mobilize the volatile. The appearance of some slopes and near-slope surface textures seen in very high resolution images is consistent with erosion from sublimation-degradation. However, a suitable volatile (e.g., H2S) that can sublimate fast enough to alter Io's youthful surface has not been identified. Disaggregation from chemical decomposition of solid S2O and other polysulfur oxides may conceivably operate on Io. This mechanism could degrade landforms in a manner that resembles degradation from sublimation, and at a rate that can compete with resurfacing.
Journal of Geophysical Research
- Pub Date:
- December 2001
- Planetology: Solid Surface Planets: Composition;
- Planetology: Solid Surface Planets: Erosion and weathering;
- Planetology: Solid Surface Planets: Physical properties of materials;
- Planetology: Solid Surface Planets: Surface materials and properties