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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Article de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

Publié par Bernard Duyck
Publié dans : #ex
El Malpais Nat. Monum. - THE "Big Skylight" - photo NMFO

El Malpais Nat. Monum. - THE "Big Skylight" - photo NMFO

The largest and deepest lava tubes of El Malpais, called the Big Skylight cave with its circular opening in the roof, features beautiful structures.

The tunnel begins with a section filled with large blocks of lava, resulting from the collapse of her skylight, lined with vertical walls adorned with benches, remains solidified showing successive levels of the lava flow.

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - the entrance to the lava tube - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - the entrance to the lava tube - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - lava benches - photo Michael Benanav for The New York Times

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - lava benches - photo Michael Benanav for The New York Times

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - lava benches - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - lava benches - photo American southwest

Further, the tunnel gets really big, with a domed ceiling above a floor covered with large blocks.

The main passage branches off towards the end, and the branches continue to deepen, while smaller tunnels open on each side, at different levels.

There are still some areas containing ice formations, less extensive than in Four Windows cave.

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - Boulders and a pile of snow remaining illuminated by a skylight - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - Boulders and a pile of snow remaining illuminated by a skylight - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - Boulders and a pile of snow remaining illuminated by a skylight - photo American southwest

El Malpais NM / Big Skylighy cave - Boulders and a pile of snow remaining illuminated by a skylight - photo American southwest

The northern section surface form a long, curved deep ravine, called Caterpillar collapse.

Access conditions:
Check with rangers for permission to access the tunnels.
Access to the site is by leaving the Hwy 53 for 12 km of unpaved road (County Road 42 toward rad300 NPS), almost impassable in rain or snow.
A 4x4 vehicle is often necessary.
Entering the tunnel is marked by a cairn, and must then face 1.5 kilometers of bumpy lava, before descending. Inside the tunnel, there is no established path, and it must be clear from the large blocks in some areas. The area of ​​the Big skykight and "Moss Garden" are vulnerable.

Sources :

- NPS - El Malpais

- El Mapais - Big Skylight cave - map

 

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