Io's theothermal (sulfur) - Lithosphere cycle inferred from sulfur solubility modeling of Pele's magma supply
Surface deposits of volatile compounds such as water (Earth) or sulfur (Io) on volcanically active bodies suggest that a magmatic distillation process works to concentrate volatiles in surface reservoirs. On Earth, this is the combined hydrologic and tectonic cycle. On Io, sulfurous compounds are transferred from the interior to the surface reservoirs through a combination of a mantle-sourced magmatic system, vertical cycling of the lithosphere, and a sulfur-dominated crustal thermal system that we here call the "theothermal" system. We present a geochemical analysis of this process using previously inferred temperature and oxygen fugacity constraints of Pele's basaltic magma to determine the behavior of sulfur in the ionian magmas. Sulfate to sulfide ratios of Pele's magma are -4.084 ± 0.6 and -6.442 ± 0.7 log10 units, comparable to or lower than those of mid-ocean ridge basalts. This reflects the similarity of Io's oxidation state with Earth's depleted mantle as previously suggested by Zolotov and Fegley (Zolotov, M.Y., Fegley, B. . Geophys. Res. Lett. 27, 2789-2792). Our calculated limits of sulfur solubility in melts from Pele's patera (∼1100-1140 ppm) are also comparable to terrestrial mid-ocean ridge basalts, reflecting a compositional similarity of mantle sources. We propose that the excess sulfur obvious on Io's surface comes from two sources: (1) an insoluble sulfide liquid phase in the magma and (2) theothermal near-surface recycling.