Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Michael R. Gross

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Grenville Draper

Third Advisor's Name

Dean Whitman

Date of Defense



This research analyzed the spatial relationship between a mega-scale fracture network and the occurrence of vegetation in an arid region. High-resolution aerial photographs of Arches National Park, Utah were used for digital image processing. Four sets of large-scale joints were digitized from the rectified color photograph in order to characterize the geospatial properties of the fracture network with the aid of a Geographic Information System. An unsupervised landcover classification was carried out to identify the spatial distribution of vegetation on the fractured outcrop. Results of this study confirm that the WNW-ESE alignment of vegetation is dominantly controlled by the spatial distribution of the systematic joint set, which in turn parallels the regional fold axis. This research provides insight into the spatial heterogeneity inherent to fracture networks, as well as the effects of jointing on the distribution of surface vegetation in desert environments.





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