Rambling Rodericks travel blog

Snake River Aquifer diagram

One of the mid-cliff waterfalls


Water bubbling out at the cliff bottom



What is at the end of one of the diversion channels

Army Corps of Engineers power plant



Unique to the Hagerman Valley are the natural springs that gush as waterfalls from halfway up the lava canyon walls, and percolate up from underground sources, or even bubble out along side the road from the bottom of the cliff. They all travel along the underground river called the Snake River Aquifer which begins some 40 to 50 miles to the northeast near the Idaho border.

The Snake River Aquifer is a large reservoir of groundwater underlying the Snake River Plain in the southern part of Idaho. Most of the water in the aquifer comes from rain and melting snow that flows onto the plain.

The aquifer is north of the Snake River. It consists of a volcanic pile of basalts. In eastern Idaho, these basalts may be about 1 mile thick. The individual lava flows are 20 to 30 feet thick each with the upper 3 to 6 feet consisting of a very permeable rubble zone.

The Snake River lies near the southern edge of the Snake River plain or plateau, about 40 to 50 miles southeast of the “headwater” ranges of east-central Idaho. The rivers in the ranges north of the plain all disappear into the surface of the Snake River Plain near the mountain front. For about 100 miles downstream in the vicinity of Twin Falls an estimated total volume of approximately 200 billion cubic feet of water (1.4 cubic miles) enter the Snake River from gigantic springs on the north cliff side of the canyon. This is the well-known Thousand Springs area.

Groundwater flows to the southwest through the Snake River Plains aquifer which is consistent with the overall tilt to the southwest of the basalt strata. The channel of the Snake River itself cuts through the aquifer. Consequently, the gravity and weight of the water in the basalt layers north of the river drives the huge springs, dumping water into the river from beautiful and unusual mid-cliff falls.

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