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Burst tumulus

Detailed Description

A burst tumulus near Kamokuna, which is a lava delta where Puʻu ʻŌʻō flows enter the Pacific Ocean. Tumuli can burst when the influx of lava is rapid compared to the rate at which the crust is thickening by cooling. In these cases the pressure driving the lava is significantly greater than the weight of the overlying crust.

Tumuli are structures usually associated with slow-moving flows. When the top of the flow crusts over, the lava beneath can well upward and create an elliptical, domed structure. Oftentimes, the pressure creates an axial fracture along the length of the structure. The lava might burst through the crust, squeeze out slowly, or only push the crust so far before it freezes.  Tumuli typically range from 2 to 10 meters high. While tumuli are most often associated with pahoehoe lavas, they have been documented in ‘a’a lava as well. Tumuli are one of several related features formed by inflation of lava flows.

Due to their relatively small size, tumuli are difficult to spot aerially. There is often debate over images of suggested Martian tumuli.



Public Domain.