Differentiating Fissure-Fed Lava Flow Types and Facies Using RADAR and LiDAR: An Example From the 2014–2015 Holuhraun Lava Flow-Field

G. D. Tolometti, C. D. Neish, C. W. Hamilton, G. R. Osinski, A. Kukko, J. R.C. Voigt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Distinguishing between lava types and facies using remote sensing data is important for interpreting the emplacement history of lava flow-fields on Earth and other planetary bodies. Lava facies typically include a mixture of lava types and record the collective emplacement history of material preserved at a particular location. We seek to determine if lava facies in the 2014–2015 Holuhraun lava flow-field are discernible using radar roughness analysis. Furthermore, we also seek to distinguish between lava types using high resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data. We extracted circular polarization ratios (CPR) from the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar and cross-polarization (VH/VV) data from the Sentinel-1 satellite to analyze the surface roughness of three previously mapped lava facies: rubbly, spiny, and undifferentiated rubbly–spiny. Using the Kruskal-Wallis test, we reveal that all but one pair of the facies are statistically separable. However, the populations overlap by 88%–89% for CPR and 64%–67% for VH/VV. Therefore, owing to large sample populations (n > 2 × 105), slight differences in radar data may be used to probabilistically infer the presence of a particular facies, but not directly map them. We also calculated the root-mean-square slope and Hurst exponents of five different lava types using LiDAR topography (5 cm/pixel). Our results show minute differences between most of the lava types, with the exception of the rubbly pāhoehoe, which is discernible at 1σ. In brief, the presence of “transitional” lava types (e.g., rubbly pāhoehoe) within fissure-fed lava flow-fields complicates remote sensing-based mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JB023419
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Holuhraun lava flow-field
  • lava facies
  • lava types
  • LiDAR
  • radar
  • surface roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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