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3-D reconstructions of subsurface Pleistocene basalt flows from paleomagnetic inclination data and 40Ar/39Ar ages in the southern part of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho (USA)

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Abstract

The U. S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, is mapping the distribution of basalt flows and sedimentary interbeds at the Idaho National Laboratory in three dimensions to provide data for refining numerical models of groundwater flow and contaminant transport in the eastern Snake River Plain aquifer. Paleomagnetic inclination and polarity data from basalt samples from 47 coreholes are being used to create a three-dimensional (3-D) model of the subsurface of the southern part of the INL. Surface and sub-surface basalt flows can be identified in individual cores and traced in three dimensions on the surface and in the subsurface for distances of more than 20 km using a combination of paleomagnetic, stratigraphic, and 40Ar/39Ar data. Eastern Snake River Plain olivine tholeiite basalts have K2O contents of 0.2 to 1.0 weight per cent. In spite of the low-K content, high-precision 40Ar/39Ar ages were obtained by applying a protocol that employs short irradiation times (minimizing interferences from Ca derived 36Ar), frequent measurement of various size atmospheric Ar pipettes to monitor and correct for temporal variation, and signal size dependent nonlinearity in spectrometer mass bias, resulting in age dates with resolution generally between 2 to 10% of the age. 3-D models of subsurface basalt flows are being used to: (1) Estimate eruption volumes; (2) locate the approximate vent areas and extent of sub-surface flows; and (3) Help locate high and low transmissivity zones. Results indicate that large basalt eruptions (>3 km3) occurred at and near the Central Facilities Area between 637 ka and 360 ka; at and near the Radioactive Waste Management Complex before 540 ka; and north of the Naval Reactors Facility at about 580 ka. Since about 360 ka, large basalt flows have erupted along the Arco-Big Southern Butte Volcanic Rift Zone and the Axial Volcanic Zone, and flowed northerly towards the Central Facilities Area. Basalt eruptions shifted the course of the Big Lost River from a more southerly course to its present one.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Poster
Title 3-D reconstructions of subsurface Pleistocene basalt flows from paleomagnetic inclination data and 40Ar/39Ar ages in the southern part of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho (USA)
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Idaho Water Science Center
Description HTML Document
Conference Title American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting
Country United States
State Idaho
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N