Structural Geology of the Northwestern Portion of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico: Implications for Seismic Surface Rupture Potential from TA-3 to TA-55

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Los Alamos National Laboratory lies at the western boundary of the Rio Grande rift, a major tectonic feature of the North American Continent. Three major faults locally constitute the modem rift boundary, and each of these is potentially seismogenic. In this study we have gathered structural geologic data for the northwestern portion of Los Alamos National Laboratory through high-precision geologic mapping, conventional geologic mapping, stratigraphic studies, drilling, petrologic studies, and stereographic aerial photograph analyses. Our study area encompasses TA-55 and TA-3, where potential for seismic surface rupture is of interest, and is bounded on the north and south by the ... continued below

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Medium: P; Size: 118 pages

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Lavine, Jamie N. Gardner: Alexis; WoldeGabriel, Giday; Krier, Donathon; Vaniman, David; Caporuscio, Florie; Lewis, Claudia et al. March 1, 1999.

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Description

Los Alamos National Laboratory lies at the western boundary of the Rio Grande rift, a major tectonic feature of the North American Continent. Three major faults locally constitute the modem rift boundary, and each of these is potentially seismogenic. In this study we have gathered structural geologic data for the northwestern portion of Los Alamos National Laboratory through high-precision geologic mapping, conventional geologic mapping, stratigraphic studies, drilling, petrologic studies, and stereographic aerial photograph analyses. Our study area encompasses TA-55 and TA-3, where potential for seismic surface rupture is of interest, and is bounded on the north and south by the townsite of Los Alamos and Twomile Canyon, respectively. The study area includes parts of two of the potentially active rift boundary faults--the Pajarito and Rendija Canyon faults-that form a large graben that we name the Diamond Drive graben. The graben embraces the western part of the townsite of Los Alamos, and its southern end is in the TA-3 area where it is defined by east-southeast-trending cross faults. The cross faults are small, but they accommodate interactions between the two major fault zones and gentle tilting of structural blocks to the north into the graben. North of Los Alamos townsite, the Rendija Canyon fault is a large normal fault with about 120 feet of down-to-the-west displacement over the last 1.22 million years. South from Los Alamos townsite, the Rendija Canyon fault splays to the southwest into a broad zone of deformation. The zone of deformation is about 2,000 feet wide where it crosses Los Alamos Canyon and cuts through the Los Alamos County Landfill. Farther southwest, the fault zone is about 3,000 feet wide at the southeastern corner of TA-3 in upper Mortandad Canyon and about 5,000 feet wide in Twomile Canyon. Net down-to-the-west displacement across the entire fault zone over the last 1.22 million years decreases to the south as the fault zone broadens as follows: about 100 feet at Los Alamos Canyon, about 50 feet at upper Mortandad Canyon, and less than 30 feet at Twomile Canyon. These relations lead us to infer that the Rendija Canyon fault probably dies out just south of Twomile Canyon. In detail, the surface deformation expressed within the fault zones can be large, fairly simple normal faults, broad zones of smaller faults, largely unfaulted monocline, and faulted monocline. Our study indicates that the seismic surface rupture hazard, associated with the faults in the study area, is localized. South of the county landfill and Los Alamos Canyon, displacements on individual faults become very small, less than about 10 feet in the last 1.22 million years. Such small displacements imply that these little faults do not have much continuity along strike and in a worst-case scenario present a mean probabilistic fault displacement hazard of less than 0.67 inches in 10,000 years (Olig et al., 1998). We encourage, however, site-specific fault investigations for new construction in certain zones of our study area and that facility siting on potentially active faults be avoided.

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Medium: P; Size: 118 pages

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OSTI as DE00008197

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Mar 1999

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  • Report No.: LA-13589-MS
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • DOI: 10.2172/8197 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 8197
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc739974

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  • March 1, 1999

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  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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Lavine, Jamie N. Gardner: Alexis; WoldeGabriel, Giday; Krier, Donathon; Vaniman, David; Caporuscio, Florie; Lewis, Claudia et al. Structural Geology of the Northwestern Portion of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico: Implications for Seismic Surface Rupture Potential from TA-3 to TA-55, report, March 1, 1999; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc739974/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.