Evaluation of faults and their effect on ground-water flow southwest of Frenchman Flat, Nye and Clark counties, Nevada: a digital database

Open-File Report 98-580

Prepared in cooperation with the Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy
, , and



Ground-water flow through the region south and west of Frenchman Flat, in the Ash Meadows subbasin of the Death Valley ground-water flow system, is controlled mostly by faults which arrange the distribution of permeable and impermeable rocks. In addition, most permeability is along fractures caused by faulting in carbonate rocks. Large faults are more likely to reach the potentiometric surface as deep as 325 meters below the ground surface and are more likely to effect the flow path than small faults. This study concentrated on identifying large faults, especially where they cut carbonate rocks. Small faults, however, may develop as much permeability as large faults if they are penetrative and are part of an anastomosing fault_zone. The overall pattern of faults and joints at the ground surface in the Spotted and Specter Ranges is an indication of the fracture system at the depth of the water table. Most of the faults in these ranges are west-southwest-striking, high-angle faults, 100 to 3,500 meters long, with 10 to 300 meters of displacement. Many of them, such as those in the Spotted Range and Rock Valley are left-lateral strike-slip faults that are conjugate to the NW-striking right-lateral faults of the Las Vegas Valley shear zone. These faults control the ground-water flow path, which runs west-southwest beneath the Spotted Range, Mercury Valley and the Specter Range.

The Specter Range thrust is a significant geologic structure with respect to ground- water flow. This regional thrust fault emplaces siliceous clastic strata into the north central and western parts of the Specter Range. These rocks act as a barrier that confines ground- water flow to the southern part of the range, directing it southwestward toward springs at Ash Meadows. These siliceous clastic aquitard rocks and overlying Cenozoic deposits probably also block westward flow of ground-water in Rock Valley, diverting it southward to the flow path beneath the southern part of the Specter Range.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of faults and their effect on ground-water flow southwest of Frenchman Flat, Nye and Clark counties, Nevada: a digital database
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Menlo Park, CA
Contributing office(s):
Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center
Report: 14 p.; Readme; Geologic explanation: HTML page, txt file; Database: TAR.GZ; 5 Figures: PostScript files
United States
Clark County;Nye County
Additional Online Files (Y/N):