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Geologic map and profiles of the north wall of the Snake River Canyon, Bliss, Hagerman, and Tuttle quadrangles, Idaho

January 1, 1994

The Snake River Plain is a broad, arcuate region of low relief that extends more than 300 mi across southern Idaho. The Snake River enters the plain near Idaho Falls and flows westward along the southern margin of the eastern Snake River Plain (fig. 1), a position mainly determined by the basaltic lava flows that erupted near the axis of the plain. The highly productive Snake River Plain aquifer north of the Snake River underlies most of the eastern plain. The aquifer is composed of basaltic rocks that are interbedded with fluvial and lacustrine sedimentary rocks. The top of the aquifer (water table) is typically less than 500 ft below the land surface, but is deeper than 1,000 ft in a few areas. The Snake River has excavated a canyon into the nearly flat-lying basaltic and sedimentary rocks of the eastern Snake River Plain between Milner Dam and King Hill (fig. 2), a distance of almost 90 mi. For much of its length the canyon wall as springs of variable size, spacing, and altitude. Geologic controls on springs are of importance because nearly 60 percent of the aquifer's discharge occurs as spring flow along this reach of the canyon. This report is one of several that describes the geologic occurrence of springs along the northern wall of the Snake River canyon from Milner Dam to King Hill (fig. 1). To understand the local geologic controls on springs, the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey initiated a geologic mapping project as part of their Snake River Plain Regional Aquifer System-Analysis Program. Objectives of the project were (1) to prepare a geologic map of a strip of land immediately north of the Snake River canyon, (2) to map the geology of the north canyon wall in profile, (3) to locate spring occurrences along the north side of the Snake River between Milner Dam and King Hill, and (4) to estimate spring discharge from the north wall of the canyon.