Major Results of Gravity and Magnetic Studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

by H. W. Oliver, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, United States,
D. A. Ponce, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, United States,
R. F. Sikora, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1991


About 4,000 gravity stations have been obtained at Yucca Mountain and vicinity since the beginning of radioactive-waste studies there in 1978. These data have been integrated with data from about 29,000 stations previously obtained in the surrounding region to produce a series of Bouguer and isostatic-residual-gravity maps of the Nevada Test Site and southeastern Nevada. Yucca Mountain is characterized by a WNW-dipping gravity gradient whereby residual values of -10 mGal along the east edge of Yucca Mountain decrease to about -38 mGal over Crater Flat. Using these gravity data, two-dimensional modeling predicted the depth to pre-Cenozoic rocks near the proposed repository to be about 1,220±150 m, an estimate that was subsequently confirmed by drilling to be 1,244 m. Three-dimensional modeling of the gravity low over Crater Flat indicates the thickness of Cenozoic volcanic rocks and alluvial cover to be about 3,000 m. Gravity interpretations also identified the Silent Canyon caldera before geologic mapping of Pahute Mesa and provided an estimate of the thickness of the volcanic section there of nearly 5 km.

Subject Headings: Magnetic fields | Radioactive wastes | Mapping | Two-dimensional models | Three-dimensional models | Thickness | Light rail transit | Drilling | Nevada | United States

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