Geology and geohydrology of the Palo Duro Basin, Texas panhandle: a report on the progress of nuclear waste isolation feasibility studies (1981)
Integrated study of the basin structure, tectonic history, rock physics, physical stratigraphy, hydrogeology, geochemistry, natural resources, and geomorphology of the Palo Duro and Dalhart Basins in the Texas Panhandle is part of a national evaluation of ancient salt basins as potential sites for isolation and management of nuclear wastes. Since early 1977, the Bureau of Economic Geology has been evaluating several salt-bearing basins within the State of Texas as part of the national nuclear waste repository program. The Bureau, a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, is conducting a long-term program to gather and interpret all geologic and hydrologic information necessary for description, delineation, and evaluation of salt-bearing and related strata in the Palo Duro and Dalhart Basins of the Texas Panhandle. The program in fiscal year (FY) 81 was divided into five broad research tasks, which were addressed by a surficial analysis and shallow stratigraphy group, a hydrology and geochemistry group, a basin analysis group, a host-rock analysis group, and a seismicity and tectonic environment group (fig. 1). The surficial analysis and shallow stratigraphy group has collected remotely sensed, surface and subsurface data to describe salt dissolution, surface processes, and rates and styles of geomorphic development. The hydrology and geochemistry group continued analysis of shallow and deep fluid circulation within the basins and rock and fluid geochemistry within the salt-bearing and other stratigraphic units. The basin analysis group characterized the major salt-bearing stratigraphic units within the basins, assessed the potential for generating and trapping hydrocarbons within the basins, and initiated studies of salt quality. Concurrently, the host-rock analysis group continued a study of cores from several drilling sites for analysis salt and other lithologic units within the cores. The seismicity and tectonic environment group continued studies of regional gravity, deep-basement structure and tectonic development of the basin, and structural controls of sedimentation and analyzed surface fracture systems. This report, a summary of progress during FY81, presents principal conclusions and reviews methods used and types of data and maps generated. Topical reports, discussing in detail various geological aspects of the Palo Duro and Dalhart Basins, are being published as phases of the study are completed. This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and its predecessor, the Energy Research and Development Administration, under contracts numbered EY-77-S-05-5466 (FY 78), DE-AC97-79ET44614 (FY791, and DE-AC97-80ET46615 (FY 80 and FY 81).