During long-lived eruptions, lava flows tend to become "channeled" into a few main streams. Overflows of lava from these streams solidify quickly and plaster on to the channel walls, building natural levees or ramparts that allow the level of the lava to be raised. Lava streams that flow steadily in a confined channel for many hours to days may develop a solid crust or roof and thus change gradually into streams within lava tubes. Because the walls and roofs of such tubes are good thermal insulators, lava flowing through them can remain hot and fluid much longer than surface flows. Tube-fed lava can be transported for great distances from the eruption sites. Once the eruption ends, the remaining lava drains from the tube, leaving an empty cave.
- Main article: Volcanic cave settlement