Sequences of extraordinarily thin (1–5 cm thick) lava layers, resembling individual lava flows, are interbedded with Jurassic and Cretaceous pillowed lava flows near San Luis Obispo Bay on the California coast. Such layers are formed inside submarine pillowed lava pipes or flow lobes. As the lava surface in a pillow pipe falls to a lower level owing to diminished supply entering the pipe, water enters the upper compartment through cracks in the outer crust and chills a new crust on top of the lava stream. Repeated lowerings of the lava level in the pipe create a series of discrete lava shelves, each of which represents the upper crust of the lava stream flowing within the pipe. These crusts are supported at different levels on their edges at the side of the pipe. The weight of subsequent overlying lava flows collapses the partly hollow tube, creating a stacked sequence of ultrathin lava layers progressively younger downward.

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