Lithostratigraphic framework in boreholes from Goldstone Lake and Nelson Lake Basins, Fort Irwin, California

Open-File Report 2013-1024- D
Edited by: David C. Buesch



In 2011 and 2012, the sedimentary basins in the Fort Irwin National Training Center, California, were evaluated for groundwater resources using a variety of techniques, including drilling of boreholes. This study summarizes lithostratigraphic features and deposits in 8 of 10 boreholes drilled in 2 basins located in the western part of Fort Irwin. The western part of Fort Irwin straddles the eastern edge of the Miocene Eagle Crags volcanic field; therefore, many of the rocks penetrated in the boreholes are primary volcanic deposits (lava flow, pyroclastic flow, and fallout tephra deposits) and tuffaceous or lithic-rich sedimentary rocks (siltstone to cobble conglomerates) deposited in alluvial, fluvial, lacustrine, and possibly groundwater discharge environments. Boreholes were drilled with mud-rotary techniques that result in cuttings samples, and only two to four cores ranging in length from 3 to 5 feet (ft) were collected in each borehole. Of the boreholes studied, maximum depths range from 684 to 903 ft. Borehole GOLD1 penetrated tuffaceous and lithic-rich sandstone, partially welded tuff, avalanche breccia, and basalt lava flows. In addition to cuttings fragments of these rocks, coatings (typically finegrained or smaller sandstone or tuff) attached to clasts can be used to approximate the type of matrix in the drilled rock. Boreholes NELT1 to NELT7, located in Nelson Lake basin, have cuttings fragments of mostly crystallized volcanic lithic clasts with minor amounts of tuff and granitic clasts. Similar to borehole GOLD1, coatings on lithic clasts are used to infer the lithicrich or tuffaceous matrix of the drilled deposits. Most rocks in these boreholes are sandstone to conglomerate that disaggregated (or were broken) during drilling.

Correlation of lithostratigraphic features to borehole geophysical logs (especially gamma and resistivity) helps to establish properties of the rock and enables identification of depositional sequences of similar rock types. Lithostratigraphic features and resistivity in boreholes compare reasonably well to nearby time-domain electromagnetic sounding (resistivity) model results.

There is no direct age control on the rocks penetrated in the boreholes. The abundance of tuffaceous material as primary or slightly redeposited matrix is used to identify rocks deposited during the activity of the Eagle Crags volcanic field in the Miocene. In contrast, sedimentary rocks composed of detrital and epiclastic grains (only a few of which are tuffaceous rocks as clasts) are inferred to have been deposited during the Quaternary or Pliocene(?). The lithostratigraphic-based estimates of relative age indicate the typical thickness of the Quaternary or Pliocene(?) deposits is 70–170 ft, and that several water-bearing horizons are probable in the Miocene(?) section.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Lithostratigraphic framework in boreholes from Goldstone Lake and Nelson Lake Basins, Fort Irwin, California
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2013-1024
Chapter D
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131024D
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description vi, 133 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Geology and geophysics applied to groundwater hydrology at Fort Irwin, California
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Fort Irwin