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Christopher Sant

Christopher Sant

Christopher Sant

Graduate Student


Earth and Environmental Sciences


Advisor: Jeff Karson

Research Interests

General Interests and Background

I am interested in many aspects of volcanology. I grew up in western Washington state, with grand views of Mt Rainier, and other Cascade volcanoes. I have been fascinated by volcanoes and their activity since I was a child watching videos of Hawaiian volcanoes on television. My serious pursuit of the study of volcanology began as a freshman in college, when my professor shared an experience of his visit to the Big Island of Hawaii and his experience sampling an active pahoehoe lava flow. Ever since that story I have dedicated my elective study to volcanic activity, specifically basaltic volcanism.

College Career Research

During my college career I have worked on several volcano related projects. I have investigated the petrology of igneous rocks of Sawtell Peak, a 3,000-foot-high collection of Eocene volcanic rocks in the Centennial Mountains of Idaho, located less than 20 miles southwest of West Yellowstone, Wyoming. I have conducted further research on Snake River basalts as part of Project Hotspot. I performed detailed study of basalt core immediately after it was extracted from the subsurface drilling. Using X-ray diffractometry I examined the geothermal alteration of the Snake River basalts.

PhD Research

My doctoral research focuses on lava flow behavior. I use the Syracuse University Lava Project molten basalt to investigate several different aspects of lava flows including influences of the crust on final lava flow morphology, flow behavior over various substrates, and rapid runout lavas. My goal is to more fully understand why lavas take the shapes they do and relate that shape to emplacement conditions. This information can potentially give scientists the ability to infer eruption conditions for any lava flow in the solar system.


Instructor Positions

  • Intro to Science, BYU – Idaho
  • Natural Disasters, BYU – Idaho
  • Earth Materials (mineralogy and petrology hybrid), BYU - Idaho

TA Positions

  • Structural Geology, Syracuse University
  • Volcanoes & Earthquakes, Syracuse University
  • Mineralogy, BYU – Idaho
  • Intro to Earth Science, BYU – Idaho


Potter, K.E., Shervais, J.W., Sant, C.J., and Christiansen, E.H., 2011, Project Hotspot: Insight into the subsurface stratigraphy and petrologic evolution of the Snake River Plain., Geothermal Resources Council Transactions, vol. 35, p. 967-971.

Moore, D., Sant, C., Wood, R., Miller, B., Hansen, S., Shurtliff, R., Grover, S., 2012, Field Guide to the Eocene Rocks of the Centennial and Henry's Mountains, Idaho & Montana, Northwest Geology, 41: 83-94.

Moore, D.K., Wood, R.E., Sant, C.J., Miller, B.C., Jordan, B.R., 2009, Petrology of the Igneous Rocks of Sawtell Peak, Idaho, U.S.A., Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, Volume 41: United States, Geological Society of America (GSA): Boulder, CO, United States, p. 114.

Jordan, B.R., Embree, G.F., Moore, D.K., Ard, M., Sant, C.J., 2009, Petrology of Basaltic Pillow Lavas in Teton Canyon, Idaho, U.S.A., Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, Volume 41: United States, Geological Society of America (GSA): Boulder, CO, United States, p. 110.

Sant, C.J., Shervais, J.W., 2013, Geothermal Alteration of the Basalts of the Snake River Plain, Idaho, Abstracts with Programs - American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Rocky Mountain Section: Salt Lake City, UT, United States.

Sant, C.J., Shervais, J.W., 2011, Project Hotspot: Preliminary Analysis of Secondary Mineralization in Basaltic Core, Central Snake River Plain, Geothermal Resource Council Transactions, vol. 35, 987-989.

Shervais, J.W., et al., 2012, Hotspot: The Snake River Geothermal Drilling Project - Initial Report, Geothermal Resource Council Transactions, vol. 36, 767-772.


Photo 1 – Chris enjoying some of his favorites rocks in the world. Large basalt columns in south Iceland. Summer 2016. Photo 2 – A lava flow from the Syracuse University Lava Project. Image shows molten basalt with a developing crust that has been deformed into distinct bow shaped folds. Photo 3 – Winter lava flow (January 2017) at the Syracuse University Lava Laboratory. The upper portion flowed over packed sand, and the lower bubbly portion flowed over packed snow.