Basalt Features Observed in Outcrops, Cores, Borehole Video Imagery and Geophysical Logs, and Basalt Hydrogeologic Study at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Eastern Idaho

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Geophysics



Major Advisor

Spencer H. Wood


A study was undertaken to examine permeable zones identified in boreholes open to the underlying basalt and to describe the vertical cross flows present in the boreholes. To understand the permeable zones in the boreholes detailed descriptions and measurements of three outcrops in the Snake River Plain, three cores at the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (ICPP) at the INEL, and over fifty borehole TV logs from the INEL were carried out. Based on the observations made on the three outcrops an idealized basalt lava flow model was generated that used a set of nomenclature that would be standard for the basalt lava flows studied. An upper vesicular zone, a sometimes absent columnar zone, central zone, and lower vesicular zone make up the basalt lava flow model. The overall distinction between the different zones are based on the vesicle shape size, vesicularity, and fractures present. The results of the studies also indicated that the basalt lava flows at the INEL are distal to medial facies pahoehoe lava flows with close fitting contacts. The most permeable zones identified in these basalts are fractured vesiculated portions of the top of the lava flow, the columnar areas, and basalt-flow contacts in order of importance. This was determined from impeller flowmeter logging at the INEL. Having this information a detailed stratigraphy of individual basalt lava flows and the corresponding permeable units were generated. From this it was concluded that groundwater flow at the ICPP prefers to travel along thin basalt lava flows or flow-units. Flow direction and velocity of intrawell flows detected by flowmeter is controlled by a nearby pumping well.

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