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history and evolution of the west-central
part of the Pacific Basin, the detailed struc-
ture and evolution of a coral atoll, the rise
and fall of sea level in response to global
climatic changes and the measurement of
the magnitude of these events, speciation
and migration of microscopic marine life,
and chemical and physical changes in atoll
carbonate rocks. In addition, data from this
program are applicable to such practical
issues as the potential use of an atoll as
a safe repository for high-level nuclear
Two submarine craters, KOA and
OAK (fig. 12), that were formed in 1958
near the northern perimeter of Enewetak
Atoll by 1.4- and 8.9-megaton bursts,
respectively, were selected for the USGS
to investigate. A basic problem in the
investigation was that data from the PPG
craters were sparse. The PPG high-yield
craters appeared to differ in a number of

strategically critical ways from craters pro-
duced by both non-nuclear and low-yield
nuclear bursts in dry, continental test
sites, such as the Nevada Test Site. The
high-yield craters appeared to have very
broad, shallow saucer-shaped profiles and
consequent large volumes of excavated
materials. In contrast, the continental test
craters, far easier to directly measure and
sample, had smaller bowl-shaped profiles
and small volumes of excavated materials.
For many years, the conclusion generally
was accepted that the high-yield devices
were more efficient in the excavational
process than the low-yield ones that formed
the continental craters. However, research
undertaken by the DNA in the 1970's sug-
gested that physical processes operating on
a scale greater than hours and gravity
effects in “special” geologic environments
such as a coral atoll might play a more
important role in the final crater size and

Figure 12. Map of Enewetak
Atoll showing location of KOA,
OAK, and MIKE craters, native
names of principal islands (mili-
tary site names shown in capital
letters in parentheses). Deep
borehole drilled in 1952 used
for pilot borehole gravity mea-
surements located on Medren
Island. Location of Enewetak
Atoll shown by asterisk on in-
dex map.


Figure 13. View of starboard side of drill ship Knut Constructor in OAK Crater in June 1985.

morphology than in dry continental sites. By the end of the last decade, computational models were capable of simulating accurately an array of phenomena associated with high-explosive and low-yield nuclear shots. However, the PPG craters (as observed and measured) formed by the high-yield events and scaled to their continental and meteor-impact counterparts were anomalous and could not be modeled confidently. The marked difference between these simulations and existing observations from the PPG were of considerable concern to the DOD. In fact, the lack of confidence in these data cast doubt on the DOD's ability to predict how effective nuclear weapons would be against hardened targets and how well strategic defense systems would survive in the event of nuclear attack. Participation of the USGS in fieldwork on Enewetak was divided into two major parts. The first, the marine phase, began in April of 1984 with a pilot borehole-gravity study by the USGS and DNA in a deep borehole drilled in 1952 on Medren Island (fig. 12). Most of the marine phase was conducted during the summer and early fall of 1984 by USGS personnel, but scientific advisors from DNA and logistic support from the Pacific Area Support Office of the Department of Energy (DOE) also participated in the marine phase. The second phase, the drilling phase, was conducted

from late winter through the summer of 1985 and was conducted jointly by personnel from the USGS, DNA, and DOE, which contracted the 245-foot drilling vessel, the Knut Constructor (fig. 13). The DOE also obtained necessary cooperation of the officials of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to conduct the fieldwork on Enewetak and to provide extensive logistic support. The marine phase concentrated on mapping seafloor features and profiling subbottom characteristics of KOA and OAK using shipboard geophysical techniques and scuba and submersible surveys (figs. 14, 15). Most of these analyses are reported in USGS Bulletin 1678. The geophysical studies incorporated data from sidescan-Sonar images, single-channel and multichannel seismic surveys, and refraction surveys; the geologic investigations included seafloor observations, collection of bottom (benthic) samples, and shallow boreholes drilled by scuba teams. Thirty-two deep boreholes were completed in the vicinity of KOA and OAK during the drilling phase. These provided information on the stratigraphic framework of the upper 1,200 feet of the carbonate cap of the atoll and ground-truth for the geophysical profiles and other marine phase data. The deepest hole was drilled about 1,800 feet below sea level in roughly 200 feet of water near OAK ground zero. Samples of rock and sediment from the

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boreholes were used for lithostratigraphic
and biostratigraphic (geologic) analyses for
strontium-isotope dating by the USGS, for
stable carbon- and oxygen-isotope ana-
lyses (Brown University), for shock-
metamorphic studies (California Institute
of Technology), for material-properties
(engineering) studies (DNA), and for radio-
chemical analyses (DNA). Geophysical logs
were run and shipboard gravity meas-
urements were made in selected boreholes
on one of the OAK transects by DNA
personnel cooperating with the USGS and
Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The collaborating teams from the
USGS, DNA, DOE, and McClelland Engi-
neers, Inc. (the drilling contractor), pro-
duced a number of major technologic and
Scientific “firsts”:
• The first boreholes successfully drilled
from shipboard through the highly dis-


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turbed materials within a high-yield
nuclear crater. This was done with a high
degree of recovery of sample and core.
• The first detailed biostratigraphic anal-
yses using microfossils (ostracodes and for-
aminifers) of near-reef facies of an atoll,
which provided the first demonstration
that microfossils could be used to deter-
mine the depth of origin (provenance) and
extent of mixing in the crater-fill materials
of layers excavated by the nuclear device.
This provided critical information about the
chronology of the crater formation and its
evolution since the nuclear tests.
• The first use of data from strontium-
isotope geochemistry as a high-precision
stratigraphic tool for atoll carbonates and
its application to determine the source
depths of crater debris and ejecta.
• The first sidescan sonar maps of a
water-filled nuclear crater.

Figure 14. Airbrush-enhanced
sidescan-Sonar image of water-
filled OAK crater (lighting from
southeast) showing major crater
and natural features. Lagoon-
ward edge of reef plate is
darker gray area to northwest;
natural lagoon floor (see arrow
on southeast side of image) is
about 150 feet deep with patch
(pinnacle) reefs rising to nearly
sea level; ground zero (GZ) is in
almost 200 feet of water. (The
imagery techniques and air-
brush enhancement employed
by USGS laboratories at Flag-
staff were basically those devel.
oped by the USGS for the Na-
tional Aeronautics and Space
Administration to process im-
ages from Mars.)



Figure 15. Two-man research submersible Delta, operated by MARFAB, Inc., used extensively for direct observation and photography of crater features and surrounding area during both phases of the Enewetak Program. Photograph taken in OAK Crater in June 1985.

• The first borehole gravity measurements made on a coral atoll and the first successful application of a slimline borehole gravity tool from aboard ship. These measurements provided essential bulk density and porosity data for the computational modeling. The multidisciplinary approach confirmed that the original excavational craters of KOA and OAK were transient features significantly smaller than originally thought and far more compatible with DOD predictions. Processes operating on a scale of hours to years greatly enlarged the size and modified the configuration of the initial craters in the water-saturated test beds. These processes included major failure of the sidewalls of the excavational crater, shock-induced liquefaction, consolidation, upward piping of material (partly from beds far below the excavational crater), and subsidence of the materials below and adjacent to the initial crater.


Cooperative Geologic Mapping 1985–1987

By Wayne L. Newell

COGEOMAP, the Federal/State Cooperative Geologic Mapping program, is proving to be an effective program for providing geologic maps of high-priority areas in a timely manner that meet the varied needs of geologic map users. In its third year of activity in fiscal year 1987, COGEOMAP has grown to encompass 30 Federal/State cooperative projects (fig. 16). When the program began in fiscal year 1985, 18 State-proposed cooperative projects were accepted and funding was at the $1 million level. Congress increased funding to the $1.5 million level in fiscal year 1986 and fiscal year 1987.

During fiscal year 1987, major projects under the program included continuing work on new State geologic maps for Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington. Detailed mapping projects were carried out in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming to identify mineral, energy, and water resources and delineate geological hazards. Significant results from the overall program include • Discovery of new high-BTU coal seams and fluorspar exploration targets in Illinois. • Development of land-use plans for the southern coast of Maine that will protect ground water in this urbanized area.


• Completion of detailed geologic mapping of four mountain ranges in the Phoenix, Arizona, region, which has stimulated mineral exploration and aided in the planning for construction of a major earth-fill dam. • Stimulation of mineral exploration in the Wind River Mountains area of Wyoming and of petroleum exploration in the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Beginning in fiscal year 1988, the COGEOMAP program becomes a major component of the new National Geologic Mapping (NGM) program, which will seek to accelerate geologic mapping to meet the continuing strong demand for modern geologic maps from the public and private sectors. Other major goals of the NGM program are • Identifying, on a province-by-province basis, critical earth-science data needs that require new or additional intermediate- to large-scale geologic mapping. • Establishing national geologic mapping priorities by province in order to focus future mapping on critical areas.

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• Increasing the coverage of the United States by intermediate- and large-scale geologic maps in provinces or portions of provinces of highest national priority. • Coordinating and integrating subsurface studies, particularly geophysical, geochemical, and hydrologic investigations, with surface geologic mapping. • Preparing and maintaining a system for an annual nationwide inventory of current geologic mapping and published map coverage. • Encouraging greater production and public availability of geologic maps. • Cooperating with the State geological surveys and the National Academy of Sciences to set standards for future geologic maps. • Evaluating and implementing new technologies and methodologies for geologic map compilation. Within the broad program goals of NGM, COGEOMAP will continue to link USGS geologists possessing regional experience and technical expertise with the staffs of State geological surveys who possess detailed local information.


[T] State with project
Location of active

D mapping
Location of

[] completed

>] State geologic

State geophysical

Figure 16. Status of COGEOMAP cooperative geologic mapping program, 1985 to early 1988.

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