During 2005 and 2006, the USGS conducted geological studies of fault zones at surface outcrops at the Nevada Test Site. The objectives of these studies were to characterize fault geometry, identify the presence of fault splays, and understand the width and internal architecture of fault zones. Geologic investigations were conducted at surface exposures in upland areas adjacent to Yucca Flat, a basin in the northeastern part of the Nevada Test Site; these data serve as control points for the interpretation of the subsurface data collected at Yucca Flat by other USGS scientists. Fault zones in volcanic rocks near Yucca Flat differ in character and width as a result of differences in the degree of welding and alteration of the protolith, and amount of fault offset. Fault-related damage zones tend to scale with fault offset; damage zones associated with large-offset faults (>100 m) are many tens of meters wide, whereas damage zones associated with smaller-offset faults are generally a only a meter or two wide. Zeolitically-altered tuff develops moderate-sized damage zones whereas vitric nonwelded, bedded and airfall tuff have very minor damage zones, often consisting of the fault zone itself as a deformation band, with minor fault effect to the surrounding rock mass. These differences in fault geometry and fault zone architecture in surface analog sites can serve as a guide toward interpretation of high-resolution subsurface geophysical results from Yucca Flat.
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USGS Numbered Series
Characteristics of Fault Zones in Volcanic Rocks Near Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, Nevada