Lava tubes and channels in the lunar Marius Hills

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The moon


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The Marius Hills region, a volcanic plateau in Oceanus Procellarum, contains numerous rilles, rille-like structures, and chains of elongate craters. Most of these structures characteristically: (1) originate on or near irregular shaped craters associated with features previously interpreted as volcanic domes, (2) trend downslope onto Plateau Plains, (3) generally taper in width and become shallower, (4) are often discountinuous, (5) occupy the center, or apparent crest of a broad ridge, (6) may contain cut-off branches and distributary structures, and (7) may have local reversals in longitudinal slope. Structures having these characteristics are interpreted to be lava channels or partly collapsed lava tubes. Terrestrial lava tubes form exclusively, and commonly, in fluid basalt flows. Recent evidence indicates that viscosities of lunar mare ‘basalt’ lava flows were conducive for lava tube formation.

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