Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nev., has been identified as a potential site for underground storage of high-level radioactive waste. This geologic map compilation, including all of Yucca Mountain and Crater Flat, most of the Calico Hills, western Jackass Flats, Little Skull Mountain, the Striped Hills, the Skeleton Hills, and the northeastern Amargosa Desert, portrays the geologic framework for a saturated-zone hydrologic flow model of the Yucca Mountain site. Key geologic features shown on the geologic map and accompanying cross sections include: (1) exposures of Proterozoic through Devonian strata inferred to have been deformed by regional thrust faulting and folding, in the Skeleton Hills, Striped Hills, and Amargosa Desert near Big Dune; (2) folded and thrust-faulted Devonian and Mississippian strata, unconformably overlain by Miocene tuffs and lavas and cut by complex Neogene fault patterns, in the Calico Hills; (3) the Claim Canyon caldera, a segment of which is exposed north of Yucca Mountain and Crater Flat; (4) thick densely welded to nonwelded ash-flow sheets of the Miocene southwest Nevada volcanic field exposed in normal-fault-bounded blocks at Yucca Mountain; (5) upper Tertiary and Quaternary basaltic cinder cones and lava flows in Crater Flat and at southernmost Yucca Mountain; and (6) broad basins covered by Quaternary and upper Tertiary surficial deposits in Jackass Flats, Crater Flat, and the northeastern Amargosa Desert, beneath which Neogene normal and strike-slip faults are inferred to be present on the basis of geophysical data and geologic map patterns.
A regional thrust belt of late Paleozoic or Mesozoic age affected all pre-Tertiary rocks in the region; main thrust faults, not exposed in the map area, are interpreted to underlie the map area in an arcuate pattern, striking north, northeast, and east. The predominant vergence of thrust faults exposed elsewhere in the region, including the Belted Range and Specter Range thrusts, was to the east, southeast, and south. The vertical to overturned strata of the Striped Hills are hypothesized to result from successive stacking of three south-vergent thrust ramps, the lowest of which is the Specter Range thrust. The CP thrust is interpreted as a north-vergent backthrust that may have been roughly contemporaneous with the Belted Range and Specter Range thrusts.
The southwest Nevada volcanic field consists predominantly of a series of silicic tuffs and lava flows ranging in age from 15 to 8 Ma. The map area is in the southwestern quadrant of the southwest Nevada volcanic field, just south of the Timber Mountain caldera complex.
The Claim Canyon caldera, exposed in the northern part of the map area, contains thick deposits of the 12.7-Ma Tiva Canyon Tuff, along with widespread megabreccia deposits of similar age, and subordinate thick exposures of other 12.8- to 12.7-Ma Paintbrush Group rocks. An irregular, blocky fault array, which affects parts of the caldera and much of the nearby area, includes several large-displacement, steeply dipping faults that strike radially to the caldera and bound south-dipping blocks of volcanic rock.
South and southeast of the Claim Canyon caldera, in the area that includes Yucca Mountain, the Neogene fault pattern is dominated by closely spaced, north-northwest- to north-northeast-striking normal faults that lie within a north-trending graben. This 20- to 25-km-wide graben includes Crater Flat, Yucca Mountain, and Fortymile Wash, and is bounded on the east by the 'gravity fault' and on the west by the Bare Mountain fault. Both of these faults separate Proterozoic and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in their footwalls from Miocene volcanic rocks in their hanging walls.
Stratigraphic and structural relations at Yucca Mountain demonstrate that block-bounding faults were active before and during eruption of the 12.8- to 12.7-Ma Paintbrush Group, and significant motion on these faults continued unt
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geologic map of the Yucca Mountain region, Nye County, Nevada
1 map : col. ; 90 x 60 cm., on sheet 145 x 100 cm., folded in envelope 30 x 24 cm. + 1 pamphlet (44 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm.)