Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




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The origin of the Snake River plain continues to be debated, but the plume model is most popular at the current time. Some theories, such as meteorite impact, have been excluded, but the remaining theories require more scrutiny.

Various methods of examining phenomena in the Snake River Plain were employed. Unsupervised classification of Landsat ETM data indicates that spectra can be used to differentiate between flows. However, photographs of flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument show wide variations in texture and color within a single flow. Vegetation grows preferentially on the smoother pahoehoe slabs and significantly impacting the spectra observed through remote sensing. Additional vegetation would prohibit using Landsat ETM to map lava flows reliably. Landsat ETM is not a viable method to map the lava flows in quadrangles Twin Falls NE, Hunt, and Eden NE, since they have significantly more loess and vegetative cover.

Elevation data reveal the locations of the ramparts at the source vent, but do not define the edge of a flow except when an inflated lobe terminates the flow. Field observations of terrain and geochemical analysis of samples defines the flows and their source vent.

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Geology Commons