from Kronia.com Website
THOTH Newsletter, VOL V, No 5, April 15, 2001
It is well known that there is an electrical connection between Jupiter and its inner Galilean moon, Io. However, when plumes of matter were discovered jetting into space the immediate interpretation by geologists was that they must be volcanic. The intense volcanism on Io is explained by the notion of rhythmic 100 meter high tides as it orbits Jupiter with a slight eccentricity. But such an obvious answer leaves many mysteries. For example, what makes the lava on Io much hotter than any on Earth? Why are the plumes filamentary? How do the volcanoes move tens of kilometers in a few years? Why is the fallout deposited in rings?
These oddities make it unlikely that we are looking at volcanoes or hot lava on Io. So why do NASA scientists leap to weak tidal effects to explain what is happening on Io’s surface when it has been calculated that the voltage induced across Io is 400 thousand volts and the observed current flowing in its vicinity is about one million amperes? (Note that these figures may be an underestimate because they assume that the Jupiter system is electrically closed. Evidence [exists] ... that this is not so.)
Part of the answer probably lies in the fact that neither volcanoes nor lightning are well understood on Earth. Also it is traditional that geologists are asked to pronounce on such matters. So it has been easy to suggest that the electrical power passes around Io rather than into it. Geologists can then ignore the obvious electrical scarring features on Io but they are then forced into far-fetched explanations.
Gold made several telling arguments for such an interpretation:
In a 1987 paper in Astrophysics and Space Science, plasma physicists Peratt and Dessler supported Gold’s interpretation and went into more detail. They explain the jets in terms of a plasma-arc discharge. The high velocity and parabolic cross-section of the plumes are derived from laboratory plasma experiments. The filamentary penumbra and convergence of ejecta into well-defined rings are characteristic plasma discharge effects that have no counterpart in volcanoes.
Reports have expressed surprise at the high temperatures measured at the hot spots on Io. They have been headlined as being the second hottest objects in the solar system, following the Sun. Such a result fits the notion of the hot spots being the touchdown points of electric arcs. The wandering of the hot spots over tens of kilometers, their preference for the edges of earlier cratering, the production of circular edged scalloping to give a fretted appearance, seen to advantage in ... clasp[s] of Io ..., are all characteristic of electric arc machining but have no coherent explanation in volcanic terms. ... [T]he brightly colored “lava fountains” [seen on press release photos] ... were painted in by NASA artists. In the original image whatever was occurring there was too bright for Galileo’s camera to register. If they were hot spots created by electric arcs then it would be like trying to film an arc welder in action. When we finally get cameras to Io that can register bright light in fine detail we will find tiny points of light brighter than the Sun.