Golden Gate Photo - Craters of the Moon Gallery
Fine Art Photography from Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho.
Craters of the Moon National Monument, located in the northern Snake River Valley, was established in 1924 by President Coolidge and expanded 5 times, with the latest expansion in 2000 when President Clinton issued a proclamation in accordance with the Antiquities Act. This last expansion increased the size of the monument by 13 times to 715,000 acres. Craters of the Moon is a geologically recent volcanic field covering over 600 square miles (1,600 Km2) at the northwestern edge of the 62-mile (100 Km) long Great Rift. The volcanic eruptions began 15,000 years ago and the most recent occurred only 2,100 years ago and were likely witnessed by the Shoshone people. The field includes 8 fissure systems, 25 cinder cones, and over 60 basaltic lava flows. The explanation for this volcanic field is that a localized heat source from the Earth's mantle, called a mantle plume or "hot spot", passed beneath this location. The mantle plume caused rises of rhyolitic magma to the surface, resulting in violent eruptions which produced a series of calderas. These caldera-forming eruptions began about 16.5 million years ago just west of the junction of Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. This mantle plume passed beneath the Craters of the Moon area around 7 to 10 million years ago. Subsequently, basaltic lava erupted, much less violently, and covered the rhyolite deposits. Craters of the Moon represents this later eruptive phase. The mantle plume that was under this area is now believed to lie under the Yellowstone area, where the 3 most recent caldera-forming eruptions occurred between 2 million and 630,000 years ago. The mantle plume hasn't moved, rather the North American Plate has been moving over it to the southwest.
Spatter Cones at Sunset
These spatter cones formed in vents along the Great Rift from very fluid lava that accumulated to form steep-sided cones around the vents.
Print No. A01NW-23-7
Spatter Cone and Moon
This is a close-up of the side of a spatter cone. The volcanic material is a welded assortment of volcanic bombs and cinders. As you can see in this close-Up, that's the moon inside the hole in the deposits.
Print No. A01NW-23-2
Tree casts were formed when pahoehoe lava flowed around fallen trees. The moisture in the wood may have prevented instant incineration of the trees. The trees decayed and molds, impressions of the trees, were left on the surface of the lava. Also notable in this pahoehoe lava flow is a local blue or green iridescence caused by its chemical composition and oxidation. Some of the flows have been named for this iridescence, like the Blue Dragon, Green Dragon, and Vermilion Chasm flows. Here is a close-up of the tree cast showing its detail.
Print No. A01NW-22-4
Big Craters and Big Southern Butte
The inside rim of Big Craters is seen in the foreground, with Big Southern Butte in the distance, about 30 miles (50 Km) to the east. Big Southern Butte is not related to the Craters of the Moon volcanics. It is predominantly a rhyolitic dome which erupted about 300,000 years ago.
Print No. A01NW-23-5
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