Much of the information included below may be found in the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) report: Site Disposal Report, Fallon Nuclear Test Site (Shoal), Churchill County Nevada, NVO-73, Nevada Operations Office, Las Vegas, NV, 1970.

The Sand Springs Range lies in the western Great Basin within the Basin and Range Physiographic Province. The north-south-trending range is approximately 20 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide. Total relief between the range and valley is 1,640 feet. The Project SHOAL Area (PSA) is located on Gote Flat, a high, gently rolling plateau, in the northern portion of the Sand Springs Range. The range falls steeply away to valleys on the east (Fairview Valley) and west (Fourmile Flat). The area surrounding the PSA is seismically active. Steeply dipping faults, joints, and shear zones with northwest and northeast orientations are prevalent in the range.

Fourmile Flat Fairview Valley

Sand Springs Range is primarily composed of Cretaceous granitic rocks, bordered on both the north and south by Mesozoic metamorphic rocks. Tertiary and Quaternary alluvial and aeolian deposits occupy the valleys. Locally, both the granitic and metamorphic rocks are overlain by Tertiary and Quaternary volcanic rocks, and the surface ground zero area is overlain by Quaternary alluvium. Numerous dikes composed of aplite-pegmatite, andesite, and rhyolite intrude the granite.

The Sand Springs Range is a semi-arid region within the Great Basin. Mean annual precipitation is estimated to be about 8 inches. Ephemeral streams fed by seasonal snow and rain are the primary water sources found in the range.

The vegetation on the foothills of the Sand Springs Range is dominated by the shrubs greasewood, shadscale, rabbitbrush, horsebrush, and indigo bush. The highest elevations of the range host Nevada ephedra, rabbitbrush, horsebrush, big sagebrush, and snowberry.

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