The structural framework of Pahute Mesa, Nevada, is dominated by the Silent Canyon caldera complex, a buried, multiple collapse caldera complex. Using the boundary surface between low density Tertiary volcanogenic rocks and denser granitic and weakly metamorphosed sedimentary rocks (basement) as the outer fault surfaces for the modeled collapse caldera complex, it is postulated that the caldera complex collapsed on steeply- dipping arcuate faults two, possibly three, times following eruption of at least two major ash-flow tuffs. The caldera and most of its eruptive products are now deeply buried below the surface of Pahute Mesa. Relatively low-density rocks in the caldera complex produce one of the largest gravity lows in the western conterminous United States. Gravity modeling defines a steep sided, cup-shaped depression as much as 6,000 meters (19,800 feet) deep that is surrounded and floored by denser rocks. The steeply dipping surface located between the low-density basin fill and the higher density external rocks is considered to be the surface of the ring faults of the multiple calderas. Extrapolation of this surface upward to the outer, or topographic rim, of the Silent Canyon caldera complex defines the upper part of the caldera collapse structure. Rock units within and outside the Silent Canyon caldera complex are combined into seven hydrostratigraphic units based on their predominant hydrologic characteristics. The caldera structures and other faults on Pahute Mesa are used with the seven hydrostratigraphic units to make a three-dimensional geologic model of Pahute Mesa using the "EarthVision" (Dynamic Graphics, Inc.) modeling computer program. This method allows graphic representation of the geometry of the rocks and produces computer generated cross sections, isopach maps, and three-dimensional oriented diagrams. These products have been created to aid in visualizing and modeling the ground-water flow system beneath Pahute Mesa.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
The Silent Canyon caldera complex: a three-dimensional model based on drill-hole stratigraphy and gravity inversion
U.S. Geological Survey
Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center
Report: 79 p.; Figures 6a-11a: 21.05 x 17.89 inches or smaller