Gallery: Our Moon's lovely lava channels

A look at valleys and rilles that outrun the length of Earth's largest cities, and even span well over a hundred kilometers.

Our Moon is home to some lovely lava channels, relics from the time when our cosmic neighbor was volcanically active. My previous blog post of a curated gallery of lunar mountains was received well so here are some of the Moon’s most notable valleys and rilles, many of which were carved by lava flows.

Note: You can click on the images to learn about each feature.

The largest valley on the Moon, Vallis Schröteri. Comparable to Earth’s Grand Canyon, it’s approximately 160 kilometers long, up to 11 kilometers wide and almost 0.5 kilometers deep. Credit: NASA
A close-up view of a part of Vallis Schröteri to show the striking twists and turns of its internal, secondary lava channel. The image is about 10 kilometers across. Credit: NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
The 300 kilometers long lava channel of Rima Ariadaeus, as captured by Apollo 10 astronauts from orbit. It isn’t carved by lava flows though but formed when a section of the Moon's crust sank. Credit: NASA
The lava-carved rilles of Rimae Prinz, as captured by Apollo 15 astronauts from orbit. The image spans about 100 kilometers vertically. Credit: NASA
The 166 kilometers long Vallis Alpes valley cutting through the lunar Alpes mountains. Inset image credit: NASA Lunar Orbiter 4 / Graphic: Jatan Mehta
Part of the 120 kilometers long Hadley rille, as seen in this rendering of the Apollo 15 landing site. Credit: NASA LRO / Also see: Krieger rille, Taurus Littrow Valley
A 65-meter wide pit in the Marius Hills region on the Moon, likely an entrance to an underground lava tube. Credit: NASA LRO
Western half of the incredibly sinuous and more than 100 kilometers long lava channel Rimae Posidonius, as captured by Apollo 15 from orbit. Credits: NASA / Jstuby
The several tens of kilometers long and fractured rilles of Gassendi crater, formed tectonically, were once filled with lava. Credit: NASA Lunar Orbiter 5
The arcuate rille of Sulpicius Gallus. The Image is about 30 kilometers across. Credit: NASA LRO

Hope you enjoyed these curated views of some striking lava channels on the Moon. It’s really something to look at our Moon and think about the times when viscous lava flows carved their way across various lunar landscapes. If you’d like to browse more lunar lava channels, the NASA LRO outreach team has a fantastic blog.

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