The Craters of the Moon (COM) lava field has a multiple eruptive history. Burial of older flows has resulted in complex subsurface stratigraphy. For the older eruptive periods, the locations of source vents and the extension of lava flows are either speculative or unknown, because they are buried under more recent pyroclastics. In this study, we used surface and subsurface backscatter characteristics of the P- and L-band polarimetric airborne synthetic aperture radar (AIRSAR) data and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) soundings to resolve different exposed and buried lava flows. Our primary objective is to define the most effective polarization and frequency for mapping, resolving, and characterizing different lava types in the volcanic field. Polarimetric analysis of AIRSAR images from COM allows a clear recognition of the aa and pahoehoe lava types as a result of the variability in their roughness. Our results suggest that the HV cross-polarized, AIRSAR L-band is capable of producing a detailed map delineating surface lava with different surface backscattering properties. An accuracy assessment utilizing the geological map of the Inferno Cone area was performed to quantify the reliability of differentiating lava types and mapping the lava flows extension below loose pyroclastics using AIRSAR data. Results shows an ability of P-band SAR to map buried structures up to 3 meters deep under loose cinder and ash deposits, resolving buried fissures, outcrops, and lava flows that were validated with ground-truth GPR surveys. The techniques used in this study provide a tool to assess volcanic hazards in remote and inaccessible places. Also it could be an aid in the study of other planets and planetary bodies in the solar system.

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