Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lava-dammed lakes in Owyhee Canyon

Here is a thought-provoking image that I created in Global Mapper this evening (click on it to enlarge). It shows the extent of a dam with a crest elevation of 3400 feet, which is the approximate elevation of the Saddle Butte 2 and West Crater Lava Dams (right, I couldn't get the blue from extending downstream, but you get the point). I have sketched in some likely dam locations...the Saddle Butte Dam is obvious because both abutments still exist. The West Crater dam, however, is a little harder to guess. The right (east) abutment is pretty obvious, but the left (west) one is not. In both cases, as we know, Rome Valley was inundated. Duh (in hindsight)

Other points:

The upper West Crater lava in the presumed abutment on river right does not have lava-delta deposits (wtf?). In the field, it looks like a dry flow. Why would water have not backed up in this area during the blockage? The contact of young WC on Old WC marks the perimeter of the 3400 ft lake. I suppose this part could have been dry initially as the flow continued in a generally downstream direction....

In the case of each dam, the damming event that is most well preserved 'immediately' post-dates an intracanyon flow from the same vent. We don't have any direct evidence that these flows dammed the river...but they certainly may have, or did they? wtf?

Is it of any interest to the modeling and general conceptualization of the processes that the lava events that clearly dammed the river were damming a river that may still have been in the process of dealing with the previous lava incursion from the same vent? (thus not so long ago, relative to the damming event).

Any thoughts? Break down and post some comments or, maybe, your own diagram....

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