The University of South Florida Geophysics Field Camp: Experiences and Science Results from the Lost River Valley and Craters of the Moon, Idaho

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The University of South Florida (USF) has run a Field Geophysics course in the Lost River Valley of Idaho every summer since 2013. Field Geophysics is one of five two-week long field courses offered by USF and geology majors are required to complete three of them. Attendees are usually juniors and seniors and no geophysical background is required. Class sizes range from 13 to 24, with 3 to 4 instructors for small group sizes to allow hands-on experience. The course is open to students from other universities. In short lectures, different methods are introduced and strengths and limitations for each are described. The course outcomes are to (i) introduce students to a range of geophysical methods — such as refraction seismics, electrical resistivity, magnetics, and ground penetrating radar (GPR), in some years, gravity and frequency-domain electromagnetics were also incorporated — (ii) learn basics of how to conduct a survey, to collect data, and overall field practices, (iii) apply (simple) data processing required to interpret geophysical data, and (iv) write a short report on each method describing the target (where, why), presenting data and results, and providing an interpretation. A ‘final’ oral poster presentation based on results from two methods for one target is used to illustrate the strength of combining methods. The course is intense with students spending only about 2 days on each method from seeing the instruments for the first time to handing in a ‘final’ technical report on the data they collected. Due to the small group sizes, all students get to work on each part of the data collection (instruments and field data recording).

Our field area is geologically varied and provides a range of easily accessible and spectacular geophysical targets such as recent volcanic features in the Snake River Plain and Craters of the Moon National Monument (COTM), a fault scarp produced by the 1983 M7.3 Borah Peak earthquake, and Tertiary dike intrusions in the Mackay Mining District. Examples of scientific results include images of the shallow (to ~30 m depth) structure of the Lost River Fault from seismic and resistivity data while GPR data on Inferno Crater in CMNM illustrate the geometry of at least seven distinct eruption events, and patterns of deposition and erosion on the Inferno and North Crater cinder cones.

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Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 13, 2019 in San Francisco, CA