Site evaluation for U.S. Bureau of Mines experimental oil-shale mine, Piceance Creek basin, Rio Blanco County, Colorado

Open-File Report 78-390
By: , and 



The U.S. Geological Survey is cooperating with the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the selection of a site for a shaft and experimental mine to be constructed in the Piceance Creek basin, Rio Blanco County, Colo. The Piceance Creek basin, an asymmetric, northwest-trending large structural downwarp, is located approximately 40 km (25 mi) west of the town of Meeker in Rio Blanco County, Colo. The oil-shale, dawsonite, nahcolite, and halite deposits of the Piceance Creek basin occur in the lacustrine Green River Formation of Eocene age. In the basin the Green River Formation comprises three members. In ascending order, they are the Douglas Creek, the Garden Gulch, and the Parachute Creek Members, Four sites are presented for consideration and evaluated on geology and hydrology with respect to shale-oil economics. Evaluated criteria include: (1) stratigraphy, (2) size of site, (3) oil-shale yield, (4) representative quantities of the saline minerals dawsonite and nahcolite, which must be present with a minimum amount of halite, (5) thickness of a 'leached' saline zone, (6) geologic structure, (7) engineering characteristics of rock, (8) representative surface and ground-water conditions, with emphasis on waste disposal and dewatering, and (9) environmental considerations. Serious construction and support problems are anticipated in sinking a deep shaft in the Piceance Creek basin. The two major concerns will be dealing with incompetent rock and large inflow of saline ground water, particularly in the leached zone. Engineering support problems will include stabilizing and hardening the rock from which a certain amount of ground water has been removed. The relative suitability of the four potential oil-shale experimental shaft sites in the Piceance Creek basin has been considered on the basis of all available geologic, hydrologic, and engineering data; site 2 is preferred to sites 1, 3, and 4, The units in this report are presented in the form: metric (English). Both units of measurement are necessary as measurements were taken in English units, and most of the contracting agencies involved are using predominantly English units.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Site evaluation for U.S. Bureau of Mines experimental oil-shale mine, Piceance Creek basin, Rio Blanco County, Colorado
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 78-390
DOI 10.3133/ofr78390
Edition -
Year Published 1978
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey,
Description ii, 42 p. :ill., maps, graphs (some fold.) ;27 cm.
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