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Snake River Scientific Drilling Project



YellowstoneThe Snake River Plain represents a world-class example of active mantle plume volcanism in an intra-continental setting. Because it is young and tectonically undisturbed, the complete record of volcanic activity can be sampled only by drilling. The preliminary scientific plan is to core a series of 4-6 drill holes along the axis of the eastern and western Snake River Plain in order to study the geochemical and stratigraphic variations in plume-related volcanism in space and time.

(Figure ©:Shervais - Geoid map of North America showing large positive geoid anomaly centered under the Yellowstone plume, with up to 15 m of anomalous topography. Note that the effect of this geoid anomaly is the dominant feature in North America and impacts most of the western United States and parts of SW Canada.)



North America, U.S.A., United States of America, Idaho, Snake River Plain



42° 56' 18'' N, 115° 21' 18'' W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • field work started in summer 2010 and ended in February 2012


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • John W. Shervais, Utah State University, Department of Geology
  • Barry B. Hanan, San Diego State University, Department of Geological Sciences, The Baylor Brooks Institute of Isotope Geochemistry
  • Michael John Branney, University of Leicester, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
  • Dennis J. Geist, University of Idaho, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Scott S. Hughes, Idaho State University, Department of Geosciences
  • Alexander A. Prokopenko, University of Cologne, Institute of Prehistoric Archeology
  • Francois Holtz, University of Hannover, Institute of Mineralogy
  • Donald Bruce Dingwell, University of Munich, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry
  • Jörg Erzinger, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 3.1, Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry
  • Cristina Maria Pinheiro De Campos, University of Munich, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry
  • Douglas R. Schmitt, University of Alberta at Edmonton, Department of Physics
  • Neil R. Banerjee, University of Western Ontario, Department of Earth Sciences, Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science
  • Lisa A. Morgan (Morzel), U.S. Geological Survey at Denver, Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center


Partners and Contractors



Basalts, Climate Change, Continental Evolution, Global Environment, Hot Spots, HOTSPOT, ICDP-2007/14, Idaho, Mantle Plumes, Snake River, SNAKERIVER, Thermal Regimes, U.S.A., Volcanic Systems, YELLOWSTONE


Current State





    Google Earth/Maps