Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste - Characterization of the Bonneville region, Utah and Nevada

Professional Paper 1370-G

Prepared in cooperation with the States of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Mew Mexico, Texas, and Utah
Edited by:
M.S. Bedinger , K.A. Sargent , and William H. Langer



The Bonneville region of the Basin and Range province in westcentral Utah and adjacent Nevada includes several basins lying south of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Physiographically, the region consists of linear, north-trending mountain ranges separated by valleys, many of which are closed basins underlain by thick sequences of fill. Surface drainage of open basins and ground-water flow is to the Great Salt Lake Desert. In structure and composition the ranges are faulted Paleozoic rocks, locally intruded by Mesozoic and Tertiary plugs and stocks. In the southern and northeastern parts of the region, volcanic rocks are widespread and form large parts of some mountain ranges. The Paleozoic sedimentary rocks include great thicknesses of carbonate rocks which compose a significant aquifer in the region

Media considered to have potential for isolation of high-level radioactive waste in the region include intrusive rocks, such as granite; ash-flow tuff; and basalt and basaltic andesite lava flows. These rock types, basin fill, and possibly other rock types, may have potential as host media in the unsaturated zone. Quaternary tectonism in the region is evidenced by seismic activity, local areas of above-normal geothermal heat flow, Quaternary faulting, late Cenozoic volcanic activity, and active vertical crustal movement.

The Bonneville region is part of a large ground-water flow system that is integrated partly through basin-fill deposits, but largely through an underlying carbonate-rock sequence. The region includes: (1) several topographically closed basins with virtually no local surface discharge that are drained by the underlying carbonate-rock aquifer; (2) closed basins with local surface discharge by evapotranspiration; and (3) basins open to the Great Salt Lake Desert that discharge by groundwater underflow and evapotranspiration. The carbonate-rock aquifer discharges to large springs in the Desert and in basins tributary to the Desert. The climate is arid to semiarid with the greatest precipitation in the mountain ranges. Most recharge probably occurs by infiltration of runoff as it leaves the mountains, although some recharge probably occurs directly to the carbonate rocks in the mountain areas. The concentration of dissolved solids in ground water is generally less than 500 milligrams per liter. Dissolved-solids concentrations increase in the Great Salt Lake Desert and in major valleys adjoining the Desert. The predominant chemical constituents in ground water are calcium, magnesium, and sodium bicarbonate. Chloride-type water is associated with the higher dissolved-solids content of water in and near the Great Salt Lake Desert.

The majority of the mineral occurrences containing base- and precious-metal deposits in the Bonneville region are of Tertiary age. Fluorspar is the primary industrial mineral. Coal, oil, and gas have not been produced in significant amounts.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste - Characterization of the Bonneville region, Utah and Nevada
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Utah Water Science Center
Report: viii, 38 p; 7 Plates: 31.00 in. x 35.00 in. or smaller
First page:
Last page:
United States
Nevada, Utah
Other Geospatial:
Bonneville Region