Monday, August 12, 2013

Exploreing Lava Tubes!

Over the summer we have become very friendly with another family, Damien, Isabelle and their three kids.  As well as going to picnics and kids activities together with one of the local associations our kids have stayed over in each other's houses and we have been on walks in the hauts (heights). 
A few days ago we decided to go and explore one of the many lava tubes in the old lava flows on the flanks of Piton de la Fournaise.  Most of the lava tunnels on the volcano require a guide as there can be dangerous gasses or risk of collapse but this one was from a lave flow in 1976 and is regarded as safe and so no guide is needed.  
Unfortunately we didn't take many photos as we were too busy wrangling kids (and making sure they didn't brain themselves on the ceiling of the tubes, next time bring head protection!).  However as it turns out another expat blogger had the same idea a couple of weeks before me and took far more photos of the actual tubes and the rock formations (I'm a bad geology nerd).

Sam and  Mathieu leading the way
The tube took a bit of finding even with instructions, there is no signs or other indications that the lave tube is there.  We had to hop over a wall at the side of the road and follow a little path between the wall and the forest until we came an entrance to the tube.  At that point the tube lead in two directions, back under the road and off under the forest.

Aurelie and Ela

So off we went to explore and it was cool!  The tube was fairly large but the floor was uneven and littered with scoria and at times we all had to stoop to avoid the ceiling, in fact there were a few occasions when the adults had crawl along!  There were occasional side tubes but in general one main tube.

Emerging from the darkness!
We explored as far as we could up the tube, about 400 - 500m to where there was another opening in the forest then returned to our starting point and explored in the other direction (600 - 700m).  This section was a good bit steeper and had larger chambers in the tube.  We stopped and turned about when we saw that the tube got much steeper, narrowed and became filled with wet (and slippery) clay.
All in all a successful mornings exploration all for the price of a few cuts and bruises all round!