Electrical studies at the proposed Wahmonie and Calico Hills nuclear waste sites, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada

Open-File Report 82-466

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Two sites in the southwest quadrant of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) were investigated as potential repositories for high-level nuclear waste. These are designated the Wahmonie and Calico Hills sites. The emplacement medium at both sites was to be an inferred intrusive body at shallow depth; the inference of the presence of the body was based on aeromagnetic and regional gravity data. This report summarizes results of Schlumberger VES, induced polarization dipole-dipole traverses and magnetotelluric soundings made in the vicinity of the sites in order to characterize the geoelectric section. At the Wahmonie site VES work identified a low resistivity unit at depth surrounding the inferred intrusive body. The low resistivity unit is believed to be either the argillite (Mississippian Eleana Formation) or a thick unit of altered volcanic rock (Tertiary). Good electrical contrast is provided between the low resistivity unit and a large volume of intermediate resistivity rock correlative with the aeromagnetic and gravity data. The intermediate resistivity unit (100-200 ohm-m) is believed to be the intrusive body. The resistivity values are very low for a fresh, tight intrusive and suggest significant fracturing, alteration and possible mineralization have occurred within the upper kilometer of rock. Induced polarization data supports the VES work, identifies a major fault on the northwest side of the inferred intrusive and significant potential for disseminated mineralization within the body. The mineralization potential is particularly significant because as late as 1928, a strike of high grade silver-gold ore was made at the site. The shallow electrical data at Calico Hills revealed no large volume high resistivity body that could be associated with a tight intrusive mass in the upper kilometer of section. A drill hole UE 25A-3 sunk to 762 m (2500 ft) at the site revealed only units of the Eleana argillite thermally metamorphosed below 396 m (1300 ft) and in part highly magnetic. Subsequent work has shown that much if not all of the magnetic and gravity anomalies can be attributed to the Eleana Formation. The alteration and doming, however, still argue for an intrusive but at greater depth than originally thought. The electrical, VES, and IP data show a complex picture due to variations in structure and alteration within the Eleana and surrounding volcanic units. These data do not suggest the presence of an intrusive in the upper kilometer of section. The magnetotelluric data however gives clear evidence for a thick, resistive body in the earth's crust below the site. While the interpreted depth is very poorly constrained due to noise and structural problems, the top of the resistive body is on the order of 2.5 km deep. The IP data also identifies area of increased polarizability at Calico Hills, which may also have future economic mineralization.

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Electrical studies at the proposed Wahmonie and Calico Hills nuclear waste sites, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
95 p., 5 over-size sheets, ill., maps ;28 cm.