The Moon Could Have Underground Lava Tubes Big Enough to Hold Entire Cities

Monday, 30 March 2015 - 3:25PM
Weird Science
Moon
Monday, 30 March 2015 - 3:25PM
The Moon Could Have Underground Lava Tubes Big Enough to Hold Entire Cities
Scientists have all but come to the consensus that there are huge lava tubes running underground on the Moon. But could humans ever set up shop there? According to a new theoretical study from Purdue University, these lava tubes could potentially house entire human cities.

The moon is not usually in the conversation for potential human habitability, as meteorites are constantly hitting the surface, the temperatures can reach 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and the radiation would be unbearable. But in recent years, theoretical evidence has been piling up that the inside of the Moon is host to gigantic lava tubes, or underground tunnels that form from the flow of lava during volcanic eruptions. We already know that Earth has these tunnels, and that the Moon is host to active volcanoes, so it would make sense that there would be similar tunnels on our natural satellite.

For this study, the researchers modeled these hypothetical lunar lava tubes in order to determine whether it would be possible for humans to develop a civilization there. "We found that if lunar lava tubes existed with a strong arched shape like those on Earth, they would be stable at sizes up to 5,000 meters, or several miles wide, on the moon," said study leader David Blair. "This wouldn't be possible on Earth, but gravity is much lower on the moon and lunar rock doesn't have to withstand the same weathering and erosion. In theory, huge lava tubes - big enough to easily house a city - could be structurally sound on the moon."

The city of Philadelphia inside a theoretical lunar lava tube:
The Moon Could Have Underground Lava Tubes Big Enough to Hold Entire Cities

[Credit: Purdue University/David Blair]



According to Purdue, this is only the second study to ever attempt to model lunar lava tubes. Their models found that the structural stability would depend on the stress state of the component lava, as well as the roof thickness. It sounds a little terrifying to live in a huge tunnel that you can imagine collapsing on you, but we may be grateful for these tunnels if Earth ever becomes uninhabitable.

Via Blastr.
Science
Space
Weird Science
Moon

Load Comments