Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Advisor 1

David A. Stephenson

Number of Pages



The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission has been evaluating a large area of central Nevada in order to define a supplemental test site for the underground testing of high-yield nuclear devices. Safety considerations involving the radiocontamination of the ground water in the vicinity of the test site necessitated that research be conducted to determine the direction and rate of flow of the ground water. This investigation defines the ground water flow systems in eighteen valleys comprising 12,000 square miles of central Nevada.

The definition of the systems was made following a compilation of existing hydrologic and geologic data for the area. Extensive field work was conducted to field check the data and to compile additional data. Fifteen deep test holes were drilled in the region by the A.E.C. and data from hydraulic tests in these exploratory holes were incorporated in this study.

The flow systems of the region were delineated by an analysis of the regional hydrostratigraphic units, water levels, vertical distribution of head, recharge-discharge relationships, hydrologic budgets, thermal springs, and chemistry of the ground water. Examples of flow systems in geologic units of varying permeabilities are described, and comparisons made with theoretical analyses of ground water flow.

It is concluded that the flow systems of the valleys in this area are generally coterminous with the topographic valleys. The high mountains separating the valleys receive large volumes of precipitation and consequently develop recharge mounds which generally prevent the interbasin transfer of ground water. These mountains are composed predominantly of Tertiary volcanics with some Paleozoic eugeosynclinal assemblages and are generally of low transmissivity. Some interbasin movement has been quantified, particularly in the eastern pasrt of the area, where divides are topographically low and where Paleozoic carbonates in the subsurface have high transmissivities.


Groundwater flow; Hydrological surveys; Nevada – Nevada Test Site


Hydrology | Radiochemistry

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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