Closed depressions at the northern Golan volcanic plateau were attributed in the past to various processes without clear evidence and conclusions. We analyze the morphology, origin, and deformation of the depressions using geologic and speleologic techniques, assisted by air photos
and satellite imaging. No ejecta, rim deposits, or lava tubes were found in association with the studied depressions. Comparison with similar recent features at Hawaii provides an explanation to their formation and subsequent definition as pit craters. They probably relate to the last, late
Pleistocene volcanic phase of the northern Golan. The magma has apparently been channelled through faults and fractures associated with the Dead Sea Transform, without reaching the surface. The pit craters indicate that inflation by pressurized magmatic intrusion could cause extension along
the unstable flanks of the deep Hula basin, while during the deflation stage the evacuated magma left voids which reached the surface by consecutive roof collapse. Since collapse reached the surface, recent erosion and sedimentation have modified the original morphology of the pit craters,
commonly forming smooth and shallow bowl-shaped depressions. The youngest pit crater in the Golan breached the surface during the Holocene, still demonstrating the typical vertical pit morphology, similar to recent pit craters in Hawaii.
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Document Type: Research Article
December 1, 2019
This article was made available online on September 24, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Formation and modification of pit craters – example from the Golan volcanic plateau, southern Levant".
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