Preliminary appraisal of gravity and magnetic data of Syncline Ridge, western Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada

Open-File Report 82-931




A gravity and magnetic study of the Syncline Ridge area was conducted as part of an investigation of argillite rocks of the Eleana Formation under consideration as a medium for the possible storage of high-level radioactive waste. Bouguer gravity anomaly data, viewed in light of densities obtained by gamma-gamma logs and previous work of D. L. Healey (1968), delineate two regions of steep negative gradient where Cenozoic rocks and sediments are inferred to abruptly thicken: (1) the western third of the study area where Tertiary volcanic rocks are extensively exposed and (2) the northeast corner of the area where Quaternary alluvium is exposed and where volcanic rocks are inferred to occur at depth. In the remainder of the area, a region extending contiguously from Mine Mountain northwestward through Syncline Ridge to the Eleana Range, the gravity data indicate that the Eleana Formation, where not exposed, is buried at depths of less than about 200 m, except in a limited area of exposed older Paleozoic rocks on Mine Mountain. Quaternary alluvium and Tertiary volcanic rocks are inferred to occur in this region as veneers or shallow dishes of deposit on Tippipah Limestone or Eleana Formation. Low-level aeromagnetic anomaly data, covering the western two-thirds of the study area, delineate relatively magnetic tuff units within the Tertiary volcanic rocks and provide a very attractive means for distinguishing units of normal polarization from units of reversed polarization. If used in conjunction with results of previous magnetization studies of G. D. Bath (1968), the low-level survey may prove to be an effective tool for mapping specific tuff members in the volcanic terrane. The important question of the feasibility of discriminating high-quartz argillite from low-quartz argillite of the Eleana Formation using surface gravity data remains unresolved. If the more highly competent, denser, high-quartz phase should occur as stratigraphic units many tens of meters thick, closely spaced gravity data may reliably detect these units. If the high-quartz phase occurs only as relatively thin units, interbedded with low-quartz phase, borehole gravity surveying can be used much more effectively than equivalent surface gravity surveying.

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Preliminary appraisal of gravity and magnetic data of Syncline Ridge, western Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
ii, 22 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.