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Friday Field Photo #187: Lava Channel on the Big Island

August 9, 2013

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As an Earth scientist who studies surface processes I’m fascinated by channels. Channels are found all over the Earth’s surface, on land and in the deep sea, and we have mapped ancient and active channels on the surface of other planets/moons. As a sedimentary geologist I typically ponder the types of channels that shape landscapes and seascapes, move sediment across the surface, and serve as long-term repositories of deposited sediment.

This week’s photo is indeed a channel but instead of moving sediment it moved molten rock across the surface of the Big Island in Hawaii. It’s now frozen in time, an abandoned channel, perhaps it will be reoccupied by younger lava flows someday. I don’t know the first thing about lava channels, but it seems that it must solidify from the edges inward, resulting in the down ‘stream’ texture (?).

Happy Friday!

This photo and more from the Big Island on my Flickr page.

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