Gravity survey of the Nevada Test Site and vicinity, Nye, Lincoln, and Clark Counties, Nevada--interim report

Open-File Report 62-58

Prepared on behalf of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission,



The gravity survey of the Nevada Test Site and contiguous areas of southern Nevada and southeastern California (fig. 1) has been made by the U.S. Geological Survey on behalf of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

The objective of this study is to delineate and interpret gravity anomalies and regional trends so that the configuration and depth of the buried erosional surface of the Paleozoic rocks may be determined. This buried surface is of utmost importance in understanding the geologic history of the Nevada Test Site region, the thickness and distribution of the overlying volcanic rocks and alluvium, and the movement of ground water. The Paleozoic rocks cause positive gravity anomalies where they outcrop or occur near the surface and negative anomalies where they are buried in valleys or capped by low-density Tertiary volcanic rocks.

Gravity trends which extend over the entire area provide a basis for computing the regional gravity gradient. The regional gravity gradient must be removed from the data for geologic interpretation of the paleotopographic surface in any limited area.

Knowledge of the thickness of low-density material overlying the paleotopographic surface is useful in several ways. Proposed underground test sites, such as drill holes and tunnels, may be evaluated in terms of rock unit thickness and alluvial cover requirements. Recent work by the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey has demonstrated ground-water movement through the Paleozoic rocks in the vicinity of the Nevada Test Site. Therefore, knowledge of the position of buried Paleozoic rocks is important in evaluating (a) the rate and direction of flow of the ground water, (b) ground-water supplies for domestic and industrial uses, and (c) the possibility of radioactive contamination of ground water. Finally, regional gravity trends and paleotopography are useful in working out the structural history of the area in connection with geologic studies now in progress.

The purpose of this interim report is to present the major part of the gravity data obtained as of December 31, 1961. The data are presented as a complete Bouguer gravity anomaly map. Although the gravity contours are somewhat generalized because the map has a scale of 1:250,000 and a contour interval of 5 milligals, the largest anomalies are adequately delineated.

Preliminary results of this gravity survey have been reported by Wilmarth and others, 1960, and by Diment and others, 1959 and 1960.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Gravity survey of the Nevada Test Site and vicinity, Nye, Lincoln, and Clark Counties, Nevada--interim report
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: 34 p.; 3 Figures: 19.52 x 25.07 inches or smaller
United States
Clark County, Lincoln County, Nye County