Scott Hughes

Geology Co-Lead

Expertise: Volcanology, Petrology, Geochemistry
Affiliation: Idaho State University
Certification/Education: Ph.D. 1983, Oregon State University
M.S. 1978, Northern Arizona University
B.S. 1972, Virginia Tech

BASALT Research Objectives

  • Determine spatial distributions, dimensions, compositions, and relative proportions of various volcanic constructs, including lava flow lobes, lava surfaces, channels, tubes, cones, and layered tephra.
  • Measure, quantify and model variabilities in slope, roughness, anisotropy and other 3-D surface attributes at small (cm), outcrop (m), and planetary (km) scales.
  • Evaluate eruptive histories at selected locations that can be used as planetary analogs.
  • Determine whether all fissures and extension cracks are related to magmatic dike injection or whether some represent response to regional crustal stresses.
  • Develop analogue models to distinguish impact melts and glasses from volcanic equivalents based on morphologies and textures, and for the emplacement of impact melt lavas and breccias.


Dr. Hughes is Professor Emeritus at Idaho State University, specializing in volcanology, petrology, geochemistry, and planetary geology.  His primary research at ISU since 1991 has been the evaluation of basalt lava flows, geochemical processes during magma genesis and evolution, and the growth of small shield volcanoes and their surrounding lava fields on the eastern Snake River Plain. During the mid-1980’s, Hughes held an extended (1983-89) NASA post-doctoral position at Oregon State University analyzing lunar and meteorite samples to evaluate and model the magmatic evolution of lunar mare basalts and volcanic glasses.  He also worked on the geochemistry of terrestrial volcanic systems, especially the volcanic rocks of the central Cascades of Oregon.  In 1985-86, Dr. Hughes spent a year at Chengdu University of Technology (CDUT), Sichuan, China as a visiting scholar collaborating with Chinese researchers and teaching a seminar series on trace element geochemistry. After joining the faculty at Idaho State University, Hughes’ was instrumental in building a new geochemical analytical facility, as well as the addition of ISU as an affiliate in the Idaho Space Grant Consortium, where he served as Affiliate Director until 2008.  He also served as Assistant Director of the NASA Idaho EPSCoR program, and in 1999 initiated EPSCoR collaboration in planetary analogs with other ISU geoscientists.  Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the American Geophysical Union and the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of Earth’s Interior.  He won the Best Guidebook award in 2000 from the Geoscience Information Society, and the Outstanding Researcher Award in 2004 from ISU. Hughes’ research on basalt lavas, mafic low shields, and other plains-style features on Earth continues in semi-retirement in order to evaluate models that help bridge the connections between magma genesis and emplacement processes.