TOC | Introduction | Geologic Data | Database | Applications | Acknowledgements | References | Appendices


The legacy of the Cold War includes voluminous geological information collected to support activities related to the underground testing of nuclear devices. The Nevada Test Site was the primary location for U.S. testing and coincides with the eastern half of the 10,000 km2 southwestern Nevada volcanic field. The geology of this volcanic field has been intensely characterized for a period exceeding 30 years, initially to support nuclear containment activities, and more recently to support environmental restoration and nuclear waste disposal. Available information includes surface and subsurface geology, stratigraphy and age dating, geochemistry, petrography, mineralogy, and physical and geophysical measurements. While the collected data continue to have an important role for Test Site activities, they have a much broader application within the geoscience community.

We have integrated geological information generated to support nuclear testing into a large, relational database. These data were generated primarily by Los Alamos National Laboratory and by the U.S. Geological Survey, and partly obtained from published literature. The database is particularly robust in petrographic analyses, and introduces new techniques devised to provide precise and accurate analyses for minor and trace constituents, with detailed documentation. This petrographic work allows definition of the intimate relation of optical mineralogy to chemistry and mineral identification via electron microprobe analysis. The database also defines the subsurface geology of the test site areas through "geologic interval" data tables, which provide stratigraphic assignments, lithologies, alterations, and other characteristics for more than 750 drill holes within the region. Geophysical logs from approximately 400 drill holes have been added to the database in its first revision.

This digital database is served by the Geographic Information System (GIS) Team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and can be accessed there through the Internet on the website of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES). Selected information can be extracted from the database with spatial (X,Y,Z) and temporal (age or stratigraphy) attributes, to evaluate schemes for predictive analysis and modeling at the Nevada Test Site, with possible application to other geologic environments.

This document is meant to be a companion to the database, which can be downloaded or accessed through the internet. We hope that the great volume of complex, interrelated data and data types within this data set will encourage non-petrographers, non-geologists, or others to utilize these data for testing and development of geological or hydrogeologic models, statistical methods, data mining techniques, exploratory data analysis, and visualization techniques.

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