US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lava lake. Lake of molten rock (lava) with dark, cooler, solidified sections floating on its surface. The internal motions of the lava causes the surface sections to break apart and reveal the brighter lava beneath. These sections of cooler material riding on the fluid lava duplicate, on a very small scale, the motion of the plates of the Earth's crust as they move over the fluid mantle within our planet. The movement of these crustal plates is known as plate tectonics. Cracks between the crustal plates allow molten rock within the mantle to reach the surface and be released as lava. Photographed at the Mauna Loa vent of the Kilauea volcano, Hawaii on 27 August 1972.
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