This report describes the lithology, thickness, and extent of valley-fill deposits in Las Vegas Valley, Nev. This information will be used to develop a hydraulic model of the valley's ground-water system.
Las Vegas Valley is a structural basin formed by bedrock that ranges in age from Precambrian through Miocene. Gravity data indicate that the deeper parts of the basin are filled with 3,000-5,000 feet of clastic sedimentary deposits that range in age from Miocene through Holocene. These deposits constitute the valley-fill aquifer and yield most of the water pumped in the valley. The upper 1,000 feet of this valley fill consist of coarse-grained deposits (sand and gravel), fine-grained deposits (silt and clay), and heterogeneous deposits that comprise either thinly interbedded coarse- and fine-grained deposits or mixtures of the two. Coarse-grained deposits, in places more than 1,000 feet thick, underlie the south and west sides of the valley and interfinger with fine-grained and heterogeneous deposits toward the center of the valley. Intervals of fairly thin heterogeneous deposits underlie parts of the valley, but they are not laterally persistent.
The distribution of coarse-grained and fine-grained deposits in three depth zones of the valley fill (0-200 feet, 200-700 feet, and 700-1,000 feet) suggests that: (1) the Spring Mountains and McCullough Range were the major sources of clastic material for the valley fill; (2) Frenchman Mountain and the Las Vegas Range were emplaced later than the Spring Mountains; (3) the east side of the Spring Mountains, which was originally closer to the center of the valley, has receded westward because of erosion; and (4) shallow, fine-grained deposits (0-200 feet deep) are more susceptible to subsidence than deeper ones.
The bedrock basin that underlies Las Vegas Valley consists of a deeply buried part that underlies most of the valley and a shallow bedrock surface on the west side of the valley. The deep part of the basin is bounded on the east by normal faults at the base of Frenchman Mountain, on the west by a possible normal fault that coincides with a zone of fault scarps, on the north by vertical or strike-slip displacement along the Las Vegas shear zone, and on the northwest by a bedrock high that underlies the area between Tule Springs and Corn Creek Springs. The shallow bedrock surface (as much as 1,000 feet deep) underlies the west side of the valley from La Madre Mountain to the McCullough Range.
Some of the fault scarps in the valley fill coincide with possible bedrock faults, which suggests a tectonic origin for some of the faulting of valley-fill deposits; however, the area of fault scarps on the west side of the valley also coincides with a rapid lateral change from incompressible bedrock to more compressible valley-fill deposits. Thus, both differential compaction and tectonic movement may be responsible for faulting of valley-fill deposits.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water conditions in Las Veags Valley, Clark County, Nevada; part 1 Hydrogeologic Framework
Water Supply Paper
Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor]