A continuously cored drill hole designated as USW G-2, located at Yucca Mountain in southwestern Nevada, penetrated 1830.6 m of Tertiary volcanic strata composed of abundant silicic ash-flow tuffs, minor lava and flow breccias, and subordinate volcaniclastic rocks.
The volcanic strata penetrated are comprised of the following in descending order: Paintbrush Tuff (Tiva Canyon Member, Yucca Mountain Member, bedded tuff, Pah Canyon Member, and Topopah Spring Member), tuffaceous beds of Calico Hills, Crater Flat Tuff (Prow Pass Member, Bullfrog Member, and Tram unit), lava and flow breccia (rhyodacitic), tuff of Lithic Ridge, bedded and ash-flow tuff, lava and flow breccia (rhyolitic, quartz latitic, and dacitic), bedded tuff, conglomerate and ash-flow tuff, and older tuffs of USW G-2. Comparison of unit thicknesses at USW G-2 to unit thicknesses at previously drilled holes at Yucca Mountain indicate the following: (1) thickening of the Paintbrush Tuff members and tuffaceous beds of Calico Hills toward the northern part of Yucca Mountain; (2) thickening of the Prow Pass Member but thinning of the Bullfrog Member and Tram unit; (3) thinning of the tuff of Lithic Ridge; (4) presence of approximately 280 m of lava and flow breccia not previously penetrated by any drill hole; and (5) presence of an ash-flow tuff unit at the bottom of the drill hole not previously intersected, apparently the oldest unit penetrated at Yucca Mountain to date.
Petrographic features of some of the units include: (1) decrease in quartz and K-feldspar and increases in biotite and plagioclase with depth in the tuffaceous beds of Calico Hills; (2) an increase in quartz phenocrysts from the top to the bottom members of the Crater Flat Tuff; (3) a low quartz content in the tuff of Lithic Ridge, suggesting tapping of the magma chamber at quartz-poor levels; (4) a change in zeolitic alteration from heulandite to clinoptilolite to mordenite with increasing depth; (5) lavas characterized by a rhyolitic top and dacitic base, suggesting reverse compositional zoning; and (6) presence of hydrothermal mineralization in the lavas that could be related to an intrusive under Yucca Mountain or to volcanism associated with the Timber Mountain-Claim Canyon caldera complex. A fracture analysis of the core resulted n tabulation of 7,848 fractures, predominately open and high angle. The fractures were filled or coated with material in various combinations and include the following in decreasing abundance: CaCo3, iron oxides and hydroxides, SiO2, manganese oxides and hydroxides, clays and zeolites. An increase in the intensity of fracturing can be correlated with the following: (1) densely welded zones, (2) lithophysal zones, (3) vitrophyre, (4) silicified zones, (5) fault zones, and (6) cooling joints.
Numerous fault zones were penetrated by the drill hole, predominately in the lithophysal zone of the Topopah Spring Member and below the tuffaceous beds of Calico Hills. The faults are predominately high angle with both a vertical and lateral component. Three major faults were penetrated, two of which intersect the ground surface, with displacements of at least 20 m and possibly as much as 52 m. The faults and some fractures are probably related to the regional doming of the area associated with the volcanism-tectonism of the Timber Mountain-Claim Canyon caldera complex, and to Basin and Range tectonism.
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USGS Numbered Series
Stratigraphy, structure, and some petrographic features of Tertiary volcanic rocks in the USW G-2 drill hole, Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada