Take it away, Laurie!
So what's a lava tube?
Here's the definition from Wikipedia:
A lava tube is a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. Tubes can drain lava from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased, and the rock has cooled and left a long cave.
While doing the research, something I learned is that a lava tube can be a cave but not a cavern. All caverns are caves, but all caves aren't necessarily caverns. Lava tubes have different properties than some of the better known caves in our country--like Carlsbad Caverns and the nearby fairyland-like Lechuguilla Cave (both in New Mexico), or Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Caverns are specifically natural caves that are big enough for access by humans and formed by soluble rock (usually limestone) that form speleothems--or stalactites and stalagmites. These formations are caused by water dripping from the roof of a cave that, over eons of time form structures within the cave. These stalactites and stalagmites sometimes fuse together and form large pillar structures. Other times they form great curtains of stone or weird formations.
(And, yes, I used "speleothem" in my story, even though it takes place in a lava tube and not a cavern. You'll have to read it to find out why.)
Check out this 55 second virtual fly-through of the Cueva de los Verdes lava tube in Lanzarote, Spain, done by the European Space Agency (ESA). It’s a little spooky, yes?
So why does my story take place inside a lava tube, as opposed to a starship, a space station or a colonized city, as they more typically would? Because something has been discovered in this particular lava tube. Something amazing. And something incredibly important.
But the people who live and work in this massive cave may have another galaxy-shaking surprise in store for them.
So get your spelunking gear ready for a different kind of space adventure!
Laurie A. Green is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author and a science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers.
After a twenty-year career working with the military, her space adventure romances are often infused with themes of honor and duty. She’s always wanted a vacation home on Mars or Titan, but for now she’s living happily ever after with her spouse, their pet menagerie and her spoiled little “StarDogs” on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico.
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