A Study by Remote Sensing Methods of Volcanism at Craters of the Moon National Park, Idaho

Monday, 15 December 2014
Christopher William Haberle1, Scott S Hughes2, Shannon E Kobs-Nawotniak3, Darlene Sze Shien Lim4, Brent Garry5, Derek W.G. Sears4, Michael Downs6, Juan Busto6, J.R. Skok7, Richard C Elphic4, Linda Kobayashi4, Jennifer L Heldmann4 and Philip R Christensen1, (1)Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States, (2)Idaho State University, Idaho Falls, ID, United States, (3)Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID, United States, (4)NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States, (5)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (6)NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States, (7)Louisiana State University, Geology and Geophysics, Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Craters of the Moon (COTM) National Park, on the eastern Snake River Plain, and its associated lava fields are currently a focus of the NASA SSERVI FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration) team. COTM was selected for study owing to similarities with volcanic features observed on the Moon, Mars and Vesta. The COTM basaltic lava fields emanate from an 80 km long rift zone where at least eight eruptive episodes, occurring 15,000 to 2,000 BP, have created an expansive volcanic field covering an area of approximately 1,650 km2. This polygenetic volcanic field hosts a diverse collection of basaltic volcanic edifices such as phreatic explosion craters, eruptive fissures, cinder cones, spatter cones, shield volcanoes and expansive lava flows.

Engineering challenges and high cost limit the number of robotic and human field investigations of planetary bodies and, due to these constraints, exhaustive remote sensing investigations of planetary surface properties are undertaken prior to field deployment. This creates an unavoidable dependence upon remote sensing, a critical difference between field investigations of planetary bodies and most terrestrial field investigations. Studies of this nature have utility in terrestrial investigations as they can help link spatially encompassing datasets and conserve field resources.

We present preliminary results utilizing Earth orbital datasets to determine the efficacy of products derived from remotely sensed data when compared to geologic field observations. Multispectral imaging data (ASTER, AVIRIS, TIMS) collected at a range of spatial and spectral resolutions are paired with high resolution imagery from both orbit and unmanned aircraft systems. This enables the creation of derived products detailing morphology, compositional variation, mineralogy, relative age and vegetation. The surface morphology of flows within COTM differs from flow to flow and observations of these properties can aid in determining the driving mechanisms. The entirety of the COTM volcanic field is the target of this investigation although areas of interest have been selected for more focused investigation to support planned and ongoing field investigations at Highway A’a flow, North Crater cinder cone and King’s Bowl phreatic explosion crater and flow.