Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science


Geology and Geological Engineering

First Advisor

Robert M. Holt

Second Advisor

Dennis W. Powers

Third Advisor

Louis G. Zachos

Relational Format



An abundance of evaporitic features is preserved throughout the approximately 2,000-foot-thick Salado formation that is present across west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The formation and preservation of evaporitic features are largely influenced by hydrology, and so those found in the Salado represent an uninterrupted record of hydrogeologic conditions in what is now the southwestern United States during the late Permian. Because it is home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) repository chamber, the salado has been the subject of countless studies ranging from areas of sedimentology, to geochemistry, to geotechnical engineering, to hydrology. However, until now there have been no concerted efforts to perform a cyclostratigraphic analysis of the Salado and its constituents. After examining the WIPP air intake shaft mapping report (Holt and Powers 1988a, b), I extracted the quantitative data recorded by holt and powers and performed several techniques of geostatistical analysis with the goals of a.) Confirming the findings of previous workers who had described depositional cycles present in the formation, and b.) Uncovering the previously hidden signature of climatic forcing (Milankovitch cycles) during the late Permian. While we can confirm the presence of the "ideal halite sequence" (as described by Holt and Powers, 1988a, b), as well as identify plausible evidence of an overall drying-out sequence throughout Salado deposition. The results of some of our analyses were uninformative and we recommend higher-end time series analysis techniques for future efforts in detecting the influence of climatic forcing on Salado deposition.


Emphasis: Geology

Included in

Geology Commons



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