During the early summer of 1959, a total of 1,187 gravity stations were occupied on the western part of the Snake River plain in Idaho. An area of 2,000 square miles extending from Glenns Ferry, Idaho, to Caldwell, Idaho, was covered with a station density of one station per two square miles. An additional 1,200 square miles of surrounding area, mainly from Caldwell, Idaho, to the Oregon-Idaho state line, was covered with a density of one station per seven square miles. The mean reproducibility of the observed gravities of these stations was 0.05 milligal, with a maximum discrepancy of 0.2 milligal. Gravity data were reduced to simple Bouguer values using a combined free-air and Bouguer correction of 0.06 milligal per foot.
The only anomalies found with closure in excess of 10 milligals are two elongated highs, orientated northwest-southeast, with the northwestern high offset to the northeast by 10 miles. The smaller of these highs extends from Meridian, Idaho, to Nyssa, Oregon, and the larger extends from Swan Falls, Idaho, to Glenns Ferry, Idaho. The maximum value recorded is a simple Bouguer value of -66.5 milligals with respect to the International Ellipsoid. Gradients on the sides of these highs are largest on the northeast sides, reaching six milligals per mile in places. Graticule interpretations of a profile across the southeastern high using a density contrast of 0.3 gm per cubic centimeter indicate an accumulation of lava reaching a thickness of at least 28,000 feet.
The Snake River investigation was made for the purpose of searching out, defining, and interpreting gravity anomalies present on the western part of the Snake River lava plain in Idaho. In particular, it was desired to further define gradients associated with the gravity high shown by the regional work of Bonini and Lavin (1957). It was not planned to cover any specific area, but rather to let the observed anomalies determine the course of the field work.
The study was undertaken as part of a project on Volcanism and Crustal Deformation, supervised by L. C. Pakiser of the U.S. Geological Survey. Professor Rodgers of the Geophysics Department of the Colorado School of Mines acted as an advisor.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Gravity survey in part of the Snake River Plain, Idaho - a preliminary report