Nuclear facts for Nevada and Yucca Mountain

By The Associated Press
Saturday April 13, 2002

Highlights of Nevada’s volcanic past: 

AGE: Ninety-five percent of Nevada’s volcanism occurred more than 10 million years ago, UNLV geologist Eugene Smith estimated. 

THREAT: The U.S. Geological Survey lists potentially active volcanoes in California, Oregon and Washington, but none in Nevada. Nevada has been far less volcanically active than other Western states in recent geologic time, and its eruptions have been gentler, geologists agree. 

VOLCANIC HOT SPOTS: Lunar Crater and Yucca Mountain have been Nevada’s two most active volcanic fields over the last 6 million years, according to Smith’s studies. At least 14 eruptions have occurred in the Lunar Crater area in the last 1 million years. Eight cinder cones have erupted in the Yucca Mountain field in the last 1 million years, the last about 77,300 years ago. 

YOUNGEST VOLCANOES: Nevada’s only known younger volcanoes are at the Soda Lakes near Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno, geologists say. An explosive eruption created two craters sometime between 1,500 and 10,000 years ago, said Jonathan Price, director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. The craters have since filled with water. 

BACK COUNTRY BYWAY: A Bureau of Land Management Back Country Byway slices through the heart of the 100-square-mile Lunar Crater field, 75 miles east of Tonopah. Regarded by geologists as Nevada’s premier volcanic area, it features more than 200 cinder cones, a relatively young 1,900-acre lava field and its namesake: a massive 430-foot-deep crater formed by an explosive eruption sometime within the last 400,000 years.