29 April 2009

Nevada Test Site: Phenomenal Course Field Trip

For the past six years, course attendees from the course Improving Hydrogeologic Analysis of Fractured Bedrock Systems access the super-secure Nevada Test Site and then inside the Yucca Mountain Repository Exploration Tunnel.

The tunnel field trip demonstrates how detailed fracture mapping can be used for hydrogeologic projects and illustrates trends between fracture origin and distribution. And frankly, its a historical project site irrespective of its future outcome TBD.

This year, the field trip was moved by US DOE from Yucca Mountain Project area to the eastern portion of the Nevada Test Site where atomic testing occurred in the 1970s and 80's. Driving through the "field" of subsidence craters quickly gives a person new perspective about this era of American history. The photo above captures the some of the 2009 field trip attendees (about half the attendees were on a different bus at a different location) at the remarkable "Apple II House" which was originally painted white and contained windows and a roof before the above ground atomic testing experiment, Apple II, was conducted to assess structural damage to identical buildings at various blast distances. First comment: the site was monitored and verified to be safe. Yes, it was the first question we each asked.

The geologic framework unfolds from stop to stop after a couple of bus stops at two unique and historical visits: one of the two remaining standing Apple II houses (two others were obliterated during the testing) and the infamous Sedan Crater.