Lava coil

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A lava coil is a spiral or scroll-shaped lava formation occurring when relatively low viscosity lava such as Pahoehoe solidifies along a slow-moving shear zone in the flow. The shear produces a Kelvin–Helmholtz instability that forms spiral-shaped patterns. Depending on the side of the flow the spiral is clockwise or anti-clockwise. They have been observed on flows near Kilauea on Hawai'i,[1] in Kenya[2] and possibly on Mars.[3]


  1. ^ " Dallas Peck, Lava coils of some recent historic flows, Hawaii. Geological Survey Research, B148-B151 1966
  2. ^ Temperley BN (1966) Vortex exudation coils on a recent basaltic lava in Kenya. Overseas Geol Mineral. Resour. 10:42-46
  3. ^ a b Ryan, A. J.; Christensen, P. R. (26 April 2012). "Coils and Polygonal Crust in the Athabasca Valles Region, Mars, as Evidence for a Volcanic History". Science. 336 (6080): 449–452. doi:10.1126/science.1219437. PMID 22539716.