Locating Field Confirmation Study Areas for Isolation of Nuclear Waste in the Texas Panhandle

Abstract

Early in 1977, the Bureau of Economic Geology was invited to assemble and evaluate geologic data on several salt-bearing basins within the State as a contribution to the national nuclear repository program. In response to this request, the Bureau, acting as a technical research unit of The University of Texas at Austin and the State of Texas, initiated a long-term program to assemble and interpret all geologic and hydrologic information necessary for the delineation, description, and evaluation of salt-bearing strata and their environments in the Panhandle area.

The technical effort has, to date, been divided between two research groups. A basin analysis group has assembled the regional stratigraphic and structural framework of the total basin fill, initiated an evaluation of natural resources, and selected stratigraphic core sites for sampling the salt and associated beds. Two drilling sites have provided nearly 8,000 feet of core material for analysis and testing of the various lithologies overlying and interbedded with salt units. Concurrently, a surface studies group has collected ground and remotely sensed data toward describing surficial processes, including carbonate and evaporate solution, geomorphic evolution, and fracture system development. A newly formed basin geohydrology group will evaluate both shallow and deep circulation of fluids within the basins.

This paper is a summary report of progress to date. It reviews principal conclusions and illustrates methodologies utilized and the types of data and displays generated. Several topical reports will be forthcoming as various phases of the study are completed and will discuss in detail various geological aspects of the Palo Duro and Dalhart Basins.

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