Suitability of Salt Domes in The East Texas Basin For Nuclear-Waste Isolation: Final Summary of Geologic and Hydrogeologic Research

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Jackson, M. P. A.
Seni, Steven J.

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This report summarizes results of the East Texas Waste Isolation program from January 1, 1978, to March 30, 1983. Using an extensive database, the study comprised 33 different lines of research by 67 scientists and research assistants. The program covered both basin-wide and site-specific (mainly around Oakwood Dome) studies using surface and subsurface data. A wide range of pertinent geologic and economic data for all 15 shallow salt domes is summarized in Appendix 2.

Mesozoic opening of the Gulf of Mexico accompanied thermal processes that controlled sedimentation during filling of the East Texas Basin. The basin contains up to 7,000 meters of shallow-marine and continental sediments overlying the Louann Salt. Deformation in the basin resulted from subsidence of its floor and gravitational flow of salt.

The East Texas Basin is divided into four provinces based on the shape of salt structures. Five forces drive salt flow; they operate from near surface to the deepest parts of the basin. Salt flow began in pre-Gilmer (Late Jurassic) time with the growth of salt pillows. Three groups of diapirs can be differentiated based on age and distribution. The growing salt structures affected topography, thereby influencing depositional facies. Low-permeability facies generally surround the salt stocks. Two types of structural inversion affected the structure of strata during diapirism. Geomorphic evidence does not preclude Quaternary uplift over Oakwood Dome, but its southern flank may have subsided. The rates of dome growth declined exponentially with time to rates less than 0.6 meters per 10^4 years. All regional fault systems in the basin appear to be related to slow gravitational creep of salt. Nevertheless, at least eight probable earthquakes were recorded near the southern margin of the basin in 1981 and 1982, and their probable focus - the Mount Enterprise fault - is poorly understood.


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