Lava Tube


Joined September 2008

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Artist's Description

*A river flows, quite sight unseen
With waters of bright tangerine
Through solid rock it does careen
And leaves behind a tubed ravine

Volcanic heart, it does begin
Sends molten blood of earth within
To course through veins of earthen skin
Then cooled becomes obsidian

Found far below the sky and trees
These lava tubes are now at ease
No longer two thousand degrees
Free to explore on hands and knees*

I live on top of one of the most geologically active areas on earth, the Cascadia Subduction Zone of the Pacific Northwest. There are literally hundreds of both dormant and active volcanoes in this region, the most infamous being Mount St. Helens in southwest region of the state of Washington. There are many national parks and monuments that have been set aside here to preserve the extremely long history of this volcanic activity, where you can experience the awesome power of these events up close and personal.

One of these adventures took my wife and I to Ape Cave lava tube, which is the longest lava tube (12,810 feet or 3.9 kilometers) in the continental United States (similar tubes are found in Oregon, California, and Idaho) and one of the longest in the world. During volcanic eruptions, lava flows tend to become ‘channeled’ into a few main streams. Overflows of lava from these streams solidify quickly and plaster on to the channel walls, building natural levees or ramparts that allow the level of the lava to be raised. Lava streams that flow steadily in a confined channel for many hours to days may develop a solid crust or roof and thus change gradually into streams within lava tubes. Because the walls and roofs of such tubes are good thermal insulators, lava flowing through them can remain hot and fluid much longer than surface flows. Tube-fed lava can be transported for great distances from the eruption sites.

This artwork was inspired by how my imagination envisioned the creation of a lava tube. It is actually two fractals I created and then composited, with a great deal of post-processing work done in both Photoshop and PSP8. The original is very large, 48 inches square, so many of the details can’t really be seen.

I have included a link below to a fun site that will let you further explore the world of lava tubes should you find these as fascinating as I do.

Virtual Lave Tube

Artwork Comments

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