The Curious Case of Io - Connections Between Interior Structure, Tidal Heating and Volcanism

T. Steinke

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

171 Downloads (Pure)


Io's spectacular and unique appearance is characterised by its yellowish surface, colourful lava deposits, and black calderas. The reason for this appearance is extensive tidal heating in the moon's interior. Caught in the Laplace resonance with the Galilean moons Ganymede and Europa, Io is the most tidally heated and volcanically active world in the Solar System. It is therefore the best place to study fundamental processes important for the early evolution of terrestrial planets, and the habitability of icy satellites and terrestrial exoplanets subject to tidal heating. The physical state of Io’s interior, the driving tidal dissipation and heat transport mechanisms are unknown, however, form a strongly interconnected system: 1) Io’s internal temperature and melt distribution are controlled by tidal dissipation and heat loss processes; 2) The total amount and pattern of tidal dissipation depend on the rheological properties of Io's interior; 3) These rheological properties, in turn, depend on the internal temperature and melt distribution. Due to the strong dependence on melt, Io's volcanic activity hints at the dynamics beneath the surface and can therefore be used to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Aim of this thesis is to improve our understanding of these interconnections (1-3) and to constrain Io's current interior dynamics based on the moon's volcanic activity derived from satellite and Earth-based observations over the last 20 years.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Vermeersen, L.L.A., Supervisor
  • de Pater, I., Supervisor
  • van der Wal, W., Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date20 Dec 2021
Print ISBNs978-94-6421-601-1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Io
  • interior
  • tidal dissipation
  • volcanism


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