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Caves and Craters
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Caves and Craters

August 19, 2011
Earlier this year, the CTX camera team saw a crater containing a dark spot on the dusty slopes of the Pavonis Mons volcano. We took a closer look at this feature with HiRISE and found this unusual geologic feature.

The dark spot turned out to be a "skylight," an opening to an underground cavern, that is 35 meters (115 feet) across. Caves often form in volcanic regions like this when lava flows solidify on top, but keep flowing underneath their solid crust. These, now underground, rivers of lava can then drain away leaving the tube they flowed through empty. We can use the shadow cast on the floor of the pit to calculate that it is about 20 meters (65 feet) deep.


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