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Tectonic models for Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Dennis W. O'Leary
Dennis W. O'Leary
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 421, Box 25046, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA
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January 01, 2007

Performance of a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain hinges partly on long-term structural stability of the mountain, its susceptibility to tectonic disruption that includes fault displacement, seismic ground motion, and igneous intrusion. Because of the uncertainty involved with long-term (10,000 yr minimum) prediction of tectonic events (e.g., earthquakes) and the incomplete understanding of the history of strain and its mechanisms in the Yucca Mountain region, a tectonic model is needed. A tectonic model should represent the structural assemblage of the mountain in its tectonic setting and account for that assemblage through a history of deformation in which all of the observed deformation features are linked in time and space. Four major types of tectonic models have been proposed for Yucca Mountain: a caldera model; simple shear (detachment fault) models; pure shear (planar fault) models; and lateral shear models. Most of the models seek to explain local features in the context of well-accepted regional deformation mechanisms. Evaluation of the models in light of site characterization shows that none of them completely accounts for all the known tectonic features of Yucca Mountain or is fully compatible with the deformation history. The Yucca Mountain project does not endorse a preferred tectonic model. However, most experts involved in the probabilistic volcanic hazards analysis and the probabilistic seismic hazards analysis preferred a planar fault type model.

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Figures & Tables


GSA Memoirs

The Geology and Climatology of Yucca Mountain and Vicinity, Southern Nevada and California

John S. Stuckless
John S. Stuckless
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Robert A. Levich
Robert A. Levich
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
January 01, 2007



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