DEFORMATION AND FAILURE OF LUNAR LAVA TUBES
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Lava tubes are long void spaces left by lava flows. Terrestrial tubes have been extensively studied. Evidence indicates lunar tubes also exist, potentially ideal environments for lunar exploration, habitation, and study. This thesis presents models of elastic deformation around lunar lava tubes to determine the expected stresses, failure regions, and surface features associated with tubes and their dimensions. Failure on internal surfaces is extensive in the modeled tubes, leaving only small usable floor regions (maximum 500 m) near tube edges. Cracks and debris may be problematic for utilizing tubes. Shape influences failure extents; narrower, semicircular-floored tubes suffer less floor failure. Linear surface cracks and bulges are expected, at distances from the tube that depend on tube dimensions, and might be used to locate tubes and determine their dimensions without entering. Such cracking seems to be present near the Southern end of Rima Mairan, suggesting the rille continues into a tube.