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Big Passage Lava flows and lava tube systems in the Transmexican Volcanic Belt

Lava flows and lava tube systems in the Transmexican Volcanic Belt 

Lava flows and lava tube systems in the Transmexican Volcanic Belt As a longstanding member of the International Union of Speleology Commission on Volcanic Caves, Dr Chris Wood joined other cave explorers and scientists in Tepoztlan, Mexico in early July to participate in the Commission's XII International Symposium on Vulcanospeleology. Scientific advances in cave geology, biology and archaeology dominated the formal paper sessions, and important new cave discoveries were described from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iceland, Hawaii, Mexico, Rwanda and Korea.

Chris Wood on balcony

One of the biggest surprises to most participants was the number and size of volcanic caves so far explored in the Transmexican Volcanic Belt. For example, over 28km of cave passage has already been mapped just in the lava tube cave system of the Suchiooc lava flow, located north of Tepoztlan. Field trips explored caves of the Suchiooc system, as well as other lava flows and caves lying within the Sierra Chichinautzin Volcanic Field, and some farther east near Perote and Xalapa associated with the Los Humeros Caldera and the twin crater complex known as El Volcancillo.

Chris Wood

On a related exploration earlier in the summer, the spectacular 8km long La Corona lava tube system, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) was explored to investigate evidence for thermal erosion by the lava river that had once flowed through the lava tube. Both in the Lanzarote and Mexican caves mentioned above, palaeosoils and underlying volcaniclastic deposits were exposed where the wall lining of caves had collapsed. The La Corona system is accessible to tourists at the Jameo del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes show caves, each being well worth a visit.