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Infrared survey of the Pisgah Crater area, San Bernardino County, California - a geologic interpretation

January 1, 1968

The infrared survey of the Pisgah Crater Area, San Bernardino County, California was primarily undertaken to establish parameters by which rock types, structures, and textures peculiar to this locale could be recognized or differentiated. A secondary purpose was to provide an adequate evaluation and calibration of airborne and ground-based instruments used in the survey.

Pisgah Crater and its vicinity was chosen as one of the fundamental test sites for the NASA remote sensing program because of its relatively fresh basaltic flows and pyroclastics. Its typical exposure of basalt also made it a possible lunar analogue. A fundamental test site for the purpose of the program is defined as a readily accessible area for which the topography, geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation and other features are relatively well known. All remote sensor instrument teams, i.e. infrared, radar, microwave, and photography, were obligated to use the fundamental test sites for instrument evaluation and to establish terrain identification procedures.

Pisgah Crater, nearby Sunshine Cone, and their associated lava flows are in the southern Mojave Desert about 40 miles east-southeast of Barstow, California. (See fig. 1.) U. S. Highway 66 skirts .the northern part of the area and provides access via asphalt-paved and dirt roads to the Crater and to the perimeters of the flows. Pisgah Crater, which is a pumiceous cone, is owned and occasionally quarried by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The remaining part of the area to the south is within the boundary of the Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, California and is currently being used as a gunnery, and bombing range. The proximate area to east, west, and north of Pisgah Crater is public domain.

Originally, an area totaling 10 square miles was outlined for detailed study. (See plate 1.) This included an 8 mile long strip extending south- east from and including Pisgah Crater to Lavic Dry Lake, and a 2 mile strip aligned to include a portion of the Sunshine lava flow and the dry lake. Additional aerial infrared imagery of the Sunshine and Pisgah flows along the Pisgah fault proved so interesting and informative that this area is included in the discussion.

Infrared surveys were flown February ii through 13, 1965 and August 5 and 9, 1966. The initial survey was flown by the NASA personnel aboard the NASA 926 Convair 240 aircraft. Because of technical problems with the infrared scanners (4.5-5.5 and 8-14 micron bands) and with certain ground instruments, most of the imagery and ground temperature data obtained during the initial survey period was of little value. However, excellent infrared imagery in the 8-14 micron (?) region of the spectrum was acquired by the Geological Survey during the August 1966 survey. The scanner was mounted in a Beech D-18 aircraft provided by the Survey's Water Resources Division. Likewise, more reliable ground data was obtained at this time owing to improved instrumentation and technique. Ground data were taken by Geological Survey personnel including W. A. Fischer, J. D. Friedman, W. R. Hemphill, D. L. Daniels, G. R. Boynton, Po W. Philbin and the author. C. R. Fross operated the infrared scanner during the August, 1966 survey and R. M. Turner was-responsible for photo processing of the infrared imagery. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

Publication Year 1968
Title Infrared survey of the Pisgah Crater area, San Bernardino County, California - a geologic interpretation
DOI 10.3133/ofr69104
Authors Stephen J. Gawarecki
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 69-104
Index ID ofr69104
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse