Cone-shaped lava flows at Pytheas

Seen here are fluid lava flows on the Moon, in the young crater of Pytheas.

Lava flowing down in the Pytheas crater. Image is about 600 m wide. Credit: NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

The brighter, more fluid lava flowed above the darker material, in an interior slope of Pytheas crater. Pytheas crater is one of the brightest spots in Mare Imbrium, indicating a young age, and thus also a recent lava outpouring.

The local topography shapes each flow and you see them finally spread into cone shapes downslope. Called Talus cones, these shapes are observed on Earth as well, at large scales!

Look closely at the featured image and you see that there isn’t one but several lava flow layers stacked on top of each other. This is indicative of multiple periods of volcanic eruptions in the Moon’s past. While the fine-grained materials represent physical characteristic changes across these flows, or within a single large flow itself.

A rover exploring and imaging such distinct layers of lava flows allow an opportunity to reconstruct the nature of volcanic events in the Moon’s past and how the lunar interior might be like.


Know more about cone-shaped “talus” lava flows at the (amazing) LRO blog:

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