[Version française sur le site de La Recherche]
This is an invited blog post by one of my crewmates, Christiane Heinicke. As a geophysicist and a rock enthusiast, she was the right person to write about our work in lava tubes.
It is dark around us and even with our headlamps we cannot see farther than an arm’s length. The air is so humid that my helmet fogs up, despite my fan blowing beside my ear with all its strength. Behind is a rubble field of lava rocks that have broken off the ceiling some time ago. In front of us we can barely make out the deep hole in the ground, behind it impenetrable blackness.
At this point the entrance to the cave is around 100 meters behind us, and 50 meters ago we passed the last skylight – where the cave ceiling has collapsed and how lets sunshine in. If I turned around and stretched a little bit, above all the giant boulders, I can see a tiny point of shimmer, where the skylight is. Too far away to be of any use to us here.
Lava tubes form when hot, ...