The Silent Canyon and Black Mountain volcanic centers are located in the northern part of the Nevada Test Site. The Silent Canyon volcanic center is a buried cauldron complex of Miocene age (13-15 m.y.). Black Mountain volcanic center is an elliptical-shaped cauldron complex of late Miocene age.
The lavas and tuffs of the two centers comprise a subalkaline-peralkaline association. Rock types range from quartz normative subalkaline trachyte and rhyolite to peralkaline comendite. The Gold Flat Member of the Thirsty Canyon Tuff (Black Mountain) is a pantellerite.
The major-element geochemistry of the Black Mountain-Silent Canyon volcanic centers differs in the total range and distribution of Si02, contents, the degree of peralkalinity (molecular Na2O+K2O>Al2O3) and in the values of total iron and alumina through the range of rock types. These differences indicate that the suites were unrelated and evolved from differing magma bodies.
The Black Mountain volcanic cycle represents a renewed phase of volcanism following cessation of the Timber Mountain-Silent Canyon volcanic cycles. Consequently, there is a small but numerically incalculable probability of recurrence of Black Mountain-type volcanism within the Nevada Test Site region. This represents a potential risk with respect to deep geologic storage of high-level radioactive waste at the Nevada Test Site.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Major-element geochemistry of the Silent Canyon-Black Mountain peralkaline volcanic centers, northwestern Nevada Test Site: applications to an assessment of renewed volcanism