Evaluation of surface faulting that may pose a hazard to prospective surface facilities is an important element of the tectonic studies for the potential Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository in southwestern Nevada. For this purpose, a program of detailed geologic mapping and trenching was done to obtain surface and near-surface geologic data that are essential for determining the location and recency of faults at a prospective surface-facilities site located east of Exile Hill in Midway Valley, near the eastern base of Yucca Mountain. The dominant tectonic features in the Midway Valley area are the north- to northeast-trending, west-dipping normal faults that bound the Midway Valley structural block-the Bow Ridge fault on the west side of Exile Hill and the Paint-brush Canyon fault on the east side of the valley. Trenching of Quaternary sediments has exposed evidence of displacements, which demonstrate that these block-bounding faults repeatedly ruptured the surface during the middle to late Quaternary. Geologic mapping, subsurface borehole and geophysical data, and the results of trenching activities indicate the presence of north- to northeast-trending faults and northwest-trending faults in Tertiary volcanic rocks beneath alluvial and colluvial sediments near the prospective surface-facilities site. North to northeast-trending faults include the Exile Hill fault along the eastern base of Exile Hill and faults to the east beneath the surficial deposits of Midway Valley. These faults have no geomorphic expression, but two north- to northeast-trending zones of fractures exposed in excavated profiles of middle to late Pleistocene deposits at the prospective surface-facilities site appear to be associated with these faults. Northwest-trending faults include the West Portal and East Portal faults, but no disruption of Quaternary deposits by these faults is evident. The western zone of fractures is associated with the Exile Hill fault. The eastern zone of fractures is within Quaternary alluvial sediments, but no bedrock was encountered in trenches and soil pits in this part of the prospective surface facilities site; thus, the direct association of this zone with one or more bedrock faults is uncertain. No displacement of lithologic contacts and soil horizons could be detected in the fractured Quaternary deposits. The results of these investigations imply the absence of any appreciable late Quaternary faulting activity at the prospective surface-facilities site.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of the Location and Recency of Faulting Near Prospective Surface Facilities in Midway Valley, Nye County, Nevada
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Earth Science Investigations Program
Report: vi, 83 p.; 9 Plates; Also available on CD-ROM