Classic lava tube passage in Lava Beds National Monument, California, US

A lava cave is any cave formed in volcanic rock, though it typically means caves formed by volcanic processes, which are more properly termed volcanic caves. Sea caves, and other sorts of erosional and crevice caves, may be formed in volcanic rocks, but through non-volcanic processes and usually long after the volcanic rock was emplaced.


There are many types of lava caves, with these being the most notable:

  • Ice caves Some lava tubes are referred to as ice caves because they contain ice within.[3]
Small surface tubes
  • Liftup caves are related to pressure ridges and the inflationary process. Liftup caves can form on the edges of pressure ridges or pressure plateaus where the convex edge of a ridge or plateau begins to expand outward it commonly leaves a void below. Liftup caves are usually no more than 5–10 feet (1.5–3.0 m) though longer ones have been discovered up to 30 ft (9.1 m) long.[6]
A lava mold of a tree trunk



  1. ^ Halliday, W.R. (2004). "Volcanic Caves". In Gunn, John (ed.). Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science. Dearborn, London: Fitzroy. pp. 760–764.[ISBN missing]
  2. ^ Palmer, A.N. (2007). "Caves in Volcanic Rocks". Cave Geology. Dayton, Ohio: Cave Books.[ISBN missing]
  3. ^ a b c d Larson, Charles V. (1993). "An Illustrated Glossary of Lava Tube Features": 56. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b Larson, Charlie & Jo (1987). "Other Types of Volcanic Caves". Central Oregon Caves. Vancouver, Washington: ABC Publishing. p. 44.[ISBN missing]
  5. ^ Nieuwenhuis, L. (August 1991). "Floor Modifications in Small Lava Tubes" (PDF). Sixth International Symposium on Vulcanospeleology: 259–261. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  6. ^ a b Chitwood, Lawrence A. (January 1989). "Inflated Lava" (PDF). Desert Ramblings, The Newsletter of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. Vol. 2, no. 1. pp. 1–2, 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  7. ^ a b c Skinner, Craig E. (August 1982), Open Vertical Volcanic Conduits: A Preliminary Investigation of an Unusual Volcanic Cave Form with Examples from Newberry Volcano and the Central High Cascades of Oregon, Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Vulcanospeleology (PDF), retrieved 2019-09-23
  8. ^ Halliday, W.R. (November 1995). "A record year in Hawaii". NSS News.
  9. ^ Chappell, W.M.; Durham, J.W. & Savage, D.E. (1951): Mold of a Rhinoceros in Basalt, Lower Grand Coulee, Washington. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 62(8): 907–918.
  10. ^ Kaler, K.L. (1988): The Blue Lake Rhinoceros. Washington Geologic Newsletter, 16(4): 3–8.