Geology of the Source Physics Experiment Site, Climax Stock, Nevada National Security Site

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A test bed for a series of chemical explosives tests known as Source Physics Experiments (SPE) was constructed in granitic rock of the Climax stock, in northern Yucca Flat at the Nevada National Security Site in 2010-2011. These tests are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration's National Center for Nuclear Security. The test series is designed to study the generation and propagation of seismic waves, and will provide data that will improve the predictive capability of calculational models for detecting and characterizing underground explosions. Abundant geologic data are available for the area, primarily as a ... continued below

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Townsend, M., Prothro, L. B., Obi, C. March 15, 2012.

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A test bed for a series of chemical explosives tests known as Source Physics Experiments (SPE) was constructed in granitic rock of the Climax stock, in northern Yucca Flat at the Nevada National Security Site in 2010-2011. These tests are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration's National Center for Nuclear Security. The test series is designed to study the generation and propagation of seismic waves, and will provide data that will improve the predictive capability of calculational models for detecting and characterizing underground explosions. Abundant geologic data are available for the area, primarily as a result of studies performed in conjunction with the three underground nuclear tests conducted in the Climax granite in the 1960s and a few later studies of various types. The SPE test bed was constructed at an elevation of approximately 1,524 meters (m), and consists of a 91.4-centimeter (cm) diameter source hole at its center, surrounded by two rings of three 20.3-cm diameter instrument holes. The inner ring of holes is positioned 10 m away from the source hole, and the outer ring of holes is positioned 20 m from the source hole. An initial 160-m deep core hole was drilled at the location of the source hole that provided information on the geology of the site and rock samples for later laboratory testing. A suite of geophysical logs was run in the core hole and all six instruments holes to obtain matrix and fracture properties. Detailed information on the character and density of fractures encountered was obtained from the borehole image logs run in the holes. A total of 2,488 fractures were identified in the seven boreholes, and these were ranked into six categories (0 through 5) on the basis of their degree of openness and continuity. The analysis presented here considered only the higher-ranked fractures (ranks 2 through 5), of which there were 1,215 (approximately 49 percent of all fractures identified from borehole image logs). The fractures were grouped into sets based on their orientation. The most ubiquitous fracture set (50 percent of all higher-ranked fractures) is a group of low-angle fractures (dips 0 to 30 degrees). Fractures with dips of 60 to 90 degrees account for 38 percent of high-ranked fractures, and the remaining 12 percent are fractures with moderate dips (30 to 60 degrees). The higher-angle fractures are further subdivided into three sets based on their dip direction: fractures of Set 1 dip to the north-northeast, fractures of Set 2 dip to the south-southwest, and Set 3 consists of high-angle fractures that dip to the southeast and strike northeast. The low-angle fractures (Set 4) dip eastward. Fracture frequency does not appear to change substantially with depth. True fracture spacing averages 0.9 to 1.2 m for high-angle Sets 1, 2, and 3, and 0.6 m for Set 4. Two significant faults were observed in the core, centered at the depths of 25.3 and 32.3 m. The upper of these two faults dips 80 degrees to the north-northeast and, thus, is related to the Set-1 fractures. The lower fault dips 79 degrees to the south-southwest and is related to SPE Set-2 fractures. Neither fault has an identifiable surface trace. Groundwater was encountered in all holes drilled on the SPE test bed, and the fluid level averaged about 15.2 to 18.3 m below ground surface. An informal study of variations in the fluid level in the holes conducted during various phases of construction of the test bed concluded that groundwater flow through the fractured granitic rocks is not uniform, and appears to be controlled by variations in the orientation and degree of interconnectedness of the fractures. It may also be possible that an aplite dike or quartz vein may be present in the test bed, which could act as a barrier to groundwater flow and, thus, could account for anisotropy seen in the groundwater recovery measurements.

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  • Report No.: DOE/NV/25946--1448
  • Grant Number: DE-AC52-06NA25946
  • DOI: 10.2172/1036766 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1036766
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc831792

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  • March 15, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Aug. 1, 2016, 7:23 p.m.

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Townsend, M., Prothro, L. B., Obi, C. Geology of the Source Physics Experiment Site, Climax Stock, Nevada National Security Site, report, March 15, 2012; Las Vegas, Nevada. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc831792/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.