Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hassan A. Babaie

Second Advisor

Dajun Dai

Third Advisor

Daniel M. Deocampo

Fourth Advisor

Lawrence M. Kiage

Fifth Advisor

Robert C. Thomas


This dissertation analyzes the spatial distribution and kinematics of the Late Cenozoic Basin and Range (BR) and cross normal fault (CF) systems and their related graben basins around the Snake River Plain (SRP), and investigates the spatio-temporal patterns of lavas that were erupted by the migrating Yellowstone hotspot along the SRP, applying a diverse set of GIS-based spatial statistical techniques. The spatial distribution patterns of the normal fault systems, revealed by the Ripley's K-function, display clustered patterns that correlate with a high linear density, maximum azimuthal variation, and high box-counting fractal dimensions of the fault traces. The extension direction for normal faulting is determined along the major axis of the fractal dimension anisotropy ellipse measured by the modified Cantor dust method and the minor axis of the autocorrelation anisotropy ellipse measured by Ordinary Kriging, and across the linear directional mean (LDM) of the fault traces. Trajectories of the LDMs for the cross faults around each caldera define asymmetric sub-parabolic patterns similar to the reported parabolic distribution of the epicenters, and indicate sub-elliptical extension about each caldera that may mark the shape of hotspot’s thermal doming that formed each generation of cross faults. The decrease in the spatial density of the CFs as a function of distance from the axis of the track of the hotspot (SRP) also suggests the role of the hotspot for the formation of the cross faults. The parallelism of the trend of the exposures of the graben filling Sixmile Creek Formation with the LDM of their bounding cross faults indicates that the grabens were filled during or after the CF event. The global and local Moran’s I analyses of Neogene lava in each caldera along the SRP reveal a higher spatial autocorrelation and clustering of rhyolitic lava than the coeval basaltic lava in the same caldera. The alignment of the major axis of the standard deviational ellipses of lavas with the trend of the eastern SRP, and the successive spatial overlap of older lavas by progressively younger mafic lava, indicate the migration of the centers of eruption as the hotspot moved to the northeast.