Ice Springs Lava Flow

The Ice Springs lava flow is about 10 miles west of the town of Fillmore, Utah in the Black Rock Desert. It was named for the cooler conditions found in its natural cavities, where year-round ice provided natural cold storage for farmers in the days before refrigeration.

Black basalt from the Ice Springs lava flow is visible in the image above, acquired on July 12, 2022, by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9. Soil and vegetation do not have not yet taken possession of these young rocks. The last lava flowed from the Ice Springs vent about 700 years ago, rendering the jagged basalt yy washes Utah’s newest rock.

A total of about 700 million cubic yards (540 million cubic meters) of lava erupted here from four cinder cone volcanoes, for which the area is also known as The Cinders.

The 17-square-mile (45-square-kilometre) Ice Springs lava flow erupted over older lava flows, which erupted on the shores and below the surface of ancient Lake Bonneville. A precursor to the Great Salt Lake, Lake Bonneville occupied basins in northeastern Nevada, western Utah and southeastern Idaho during the late Pleistocene 25,000 to 10,000 years ago. year. At its greatest extent, the lake was up to 1,000 feet (300 meters) deep and covered about 20,000 square miles (52,000 square kilometers).

The dark brown areas in the image are older lava flows, along with the sediment deposited on them when they were at the bottom of Lake Bonneville. In some places, the contact between younger and older lava flows appears almost linear; this is where the lava flowed against a fault scarp. The lighter brown areas are more recent sand dunes.

One of the cinder cones, Red Dome, is the site of Utah’s largest open pit lava mine. Lava, ash, pumice and slag have been quarried here since the 1930s for use in landscaping, road building, cinder block and cement making, and to line barbecues and aquariums.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using US Geological Survey Landsat data. Story by Sara E. Pratt.

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