Fractures in Outcrops in the Vicinity of Drill Hole USW G-4, Yucca Mountain, Nevada: Data Analysis and Compilation

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Fractures on outcrops in the vicinity of drill hole USW G-4, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, were studied in order to contribute to characterization of fractures for hydrologic, geomechanical, and tectonic modeling of the Yucca Mountain block and to characterize fractures prior to the excavation of a proposed exploratory shaft located near USW G-4. Yucca Mountain is a prospective site for the construction of an underground repository for high-level nuclear waste .

Measurements were taken and recorded on 5,000 fractures at 50 outcrop stations primarily in the upper lithophysal unit of the Tiva Canyon Member of the Miocene Paintbrush Tuff. Fracture orientation and surface roughness were recorded for each fracture. Additionally, notes were taken on fracture abutting, crossing, and offsetting relations, swarming, curvature, brecciation, slickensides, and fracture fillings.

Frequency distributions of orientation and roughness were plotted and analyzed. Fractures with low roughness coefficients (0-4) group tightly into two sets based on orientation. We conclude that such fractures are cooling joints and that all other fractures are tectonic.

The development of small-scale fractures adjacent, subparallel, and possibly related to the Ghost Dance fault has been addressed in a preliminary way based on data collected in this study. Such sympathetic fractures are abundant in the upper cliff unit but not in the upper lithophysal unit.


U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 89-92.

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