We operated a microearthquake array in the neighborhood of the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The array consists of four high-gain (up to 34 million), narrow band (25 Hz) telemetered stations.
Based on approximate magnitude calibration of the array we expect during quiet periods, for distances less than 15 km, complete recording of events at Yucca Mt. for M ≧ −1. We have operated the four stations for 12-hour periods overnight between August and October 1990 and intermittently afterward, until April 1991, when we began more or less continuous operation.
The pattern of microearthquake activity confirms the existence of a zone of seismic quiescence in the vicinity of proposed repository. We recorded only about 10 events with S-P times of less than 3 sec (D < 24 km). Most events had S-P times between 3 and 6.5 sec, consistent with the higher seismic activity at distances between 24 and 52 km observed by Rogers et al. (1987) and Gomberg (1991). Oliver et al. (1966) found, contrary to what has been observed by us for Yucca Mountain, that in seismically active areas most of the events had S-P times of less than 3 sec. We confirmed this expectation for four microearthquake stations near Mammoth Lakes, where we observed microearthquake rates of over 100 per day, most with S-P times of less than 3 sec. Extrapolation of seismicity data from the Southern Great Basin Seismic Network confirms the low microearthquake activity in the immediate vicinity of Yucca Mountain.