Anomalous Strain Accumulation in the Yucca Mountain Area, Nevada

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Global Positioning System (GPS) surveys from 1991 to 1997 near Yucca Mountain, Nevada, indicate west-northwest crustal elongation at a rate of 1.7 +/- 0.3 millimeters per year (1sigma) over 34 kilometers, or 50 +/- 9 nanostrain per year. Global Positioning System and trilateration surveys from 1983 to 1997 on a 14-kilometer baseline across the proposed repository site for high-level radioactive waste indicate that the crust extended by 0.7 to 0.9 +/- 0.2 millimeter per year (50 to 64 +/- 14 nanostrain per year), depending on the coseismic effect of the Ms 5.4 1992 Little Skull Mountain earthquake. These strain rates are at least an order of magnitude higher than would be predicted from the Quaternary volcanic and tectonic history of the area.

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