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Salt deformation in the Paradox region

Salt deformation in the Paradox region
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By: H. H. Doelling, C. G. Oviatt, and P. W. Huntoon

Bedded salt deposits were identified by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as places suitable to store or dispose of nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The Paradox Basin, with its thick salt beds, was a likely place for study and consideration. Geologic studies were performed to insure that other natural activities in nature would not negate or diminish the advantages of the salt beds. Some important areas for study included the natural ground-water systems, the normal tectonic activity of the area, and man's activities in the area. Unsaturated ground waters could dissolve the salt containing the dangerous materials, earthquakes and stresses on the salt might make it mobile and disrupt the containment of the nuclear wastes, blasting in mines and quarries would also place stresses on the salt. The half-lives of many of the radioactive isotopes are enormous; therefore it was necessary to insure that such a repository be safe for tens of thousands of years.

The Utah Geological and Mineral Survey along with other governmental agencies conducted studies simultaneously with those of the DOE and its subcontractors to make sure that any sites chosen in the Paradox Basin would be safe and in the best interests of the citizens of Utah and of the United States of America. Three of these studies appear in this bulletin.

All three studies indicate that the salt is still active in various parts of the Paradox Basin and that radioactive waste disposal in the region should be viewed with extreme caution. The Paradox Basin of Utah and Colorado is truly a unique area of the world where active processes constantly create and destroy some rather unusual landforms in rather concentrated settings: deep canyons, salt valleys, stone arches, fins, dissolution features, diapirs, buttes, mesas, monuments, monoclines, joints, steep escarpments, cuestas, and hogbacks. These are well displayed by the colorful and varied formations of the region. These papers answer many questions that visitors ask about the region, such as why we don't see salt at the surface, how thick are the salt beds, how old are the rocks, the salt, and the structures, why are some rocks green and others red and lavender? Studies continue by the UGMS and other agencies to unravel many unanswered questions about this very interesting part of the world.

Other Information:
Published: 1988
Pages: 93 p.
Location: Grand County
Media Type: Paper Publication

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