You’ve just been given this image of a planetary terrain for interpretation. In the image are dozens (hundreds counting the smaller ones) of elliptical pocks on the surface visible from miles above the ground, their long axis oriented northwest to southeast.

That is all the information you have. What are your thoughts as to a possible cause?

Yes, I’m going somewhere with this. But not all of a sudden. Stick with me, the final story Friday June 6.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m going to say that the formations are ruptured bubbles of lava or something similar from a planet elsewhere in the galaxy, perhaps? As to why the axis of the bubbles are oriented in the same direction – perhaps some very strong winds?

  2. I wanted to add that what appear to be dry riverbeds are exactly that – the lava bubbles were first and then the erosive action took place over the course of many thousands of years at a later time.