pahoehoe in mud "lava" from a mud volcano - hand/display specimen
Here’s something unusual. Pahoehoe is a Hawaiian term smooth or ropy lava, normally basalt. Geologists have adopted the word for ropy lava. Classic examples come from the frequent eruptions of Kilauea in Hawaii. Here we have the same ropy structure of the basalt pahoehoe, but instead of basalt, it’s mud, since that what was erupting from this volcano. Pahoehoe is formed when a flow runs downhill and the crust folds onto itself, or when, in basalt, an underflow of molten lava causes the partly hardened surface to wrinkle.
Mud volcanos are uncommon, but there is a small group of them near Niland, California, near the southeast corner of the Salton Sea. The area is geothermically active, with numerous geothermal plants producing electricity. The mud “lava” is brought to the surface by escaping carbon dioxide. Mud pahoehoe is ephemeral, lasting until the next hard rain, and it’s not often found.
These examples are fairly robust, though they will break if dropped. The pencil is 5 1/2" long, for scale. In the fist two photos, the mud would have been flowing towards the camera.
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