Exploration for and development of lithium brine in Fish Lake Valley requires a comprehensive understanding of the geometry of the fault-bounded, closed basins together with characterization of the lithology and spatial variability of the sedimentary-volcanic fill that form the reservoir. American Lithium’s technical advisor, Dr. John Oldow, PhD of the University of Texas at Dallas, has spent nearly a decade of geologic and geophysical investigation of the geometry and kinematic evolution of the Fish Lake Valley basin and bounding fault systems. Much of that work focused on the three-dimensional geometry of the basins underlying northern Fish Lake Valley, the stratigraphy of the basin fill, and the geometry and history of displacement of the fault array that bounds and dissects the basin.
TECTONICS: Regional tectonic map showing major fault systems in the southwestern Great Basin. Complex array of faults in the Silver Peak – Lone Mountain region east of the northern end of the DVFLV fault zone from mapping during ongoing NSF funded research project (Oldow, unpublished). CVF, Clayton Valley fault; DVF, Death Valley fault; DSF, Deep Springs fault; DMF, Dry Mountain fault; EIF, Eastern Inyo fault; Fish Lake Valley fault; FCF, Furnace Creek fault; GF, Garlock fault; HMF, Hunter Mountain fault; MDF, Mount Dunfee fault; OWF, Oriental Wash fault; OVF, Owens Valley fault; PMF, Palmetto Mountain fault; PVF, Panamint Valley fault; PCF, Paymaster Canyon fault; SMF, Sylvania Mountain fault; SRV, Saline Range fault; SNF, Sierra Nevada fault; SLF, State Line fault; TPF, Towne Pass fault; WWF, Waucoba Wash fault; WMF, White Mountain fault. CCRB, Cucomungo Canyon Restraining Bend.
RELIEF MAP: Shaded relief map of the Fish Lake Valley region illustrating major physiographic provinces and fault zones. BSV, Big Smokey Valley; CSM, Columbus Salt March; DSV, Deep Springs Valley; EV, Eureka Valley; HTH, Horse Thief Hills; FLV, Fish Lake Valley; LCR, Last Chance Range; NCV, Northern Clayton Valley; OV, Owens Valley; SM, Sylvania Mountains; SPR, Silver Peak Range; QV, Queen Valley ;VH, Volcanic Hills; WM, White Mountains.
Fault geometry is critical in the development of lithium brine basins in that the structures may provide vertical conduits for fluid flow and may also represent aquitards controlling lateral flow in a segmented basin system.
The Fish Lake Valley basin is bounded on the west by and formed in response to displacement along the northern segment of the Death Valley – Furnace Creek – Fish Lake Valley (DV-FC-FLV) fault system. The DV-FC-FLV fault system stretches northwesterly for over 200 miles from the Mojave Desert at the southern end of Death Valley, California to Fish Lake Valley. The fault is one of the most tectonically active structures in the western Great Basin
Dr. John Oldow, Ph.D., Technical Consultant to American Lithium and Director of the Ellison Miles Center for Geological Field Studies at the University of Texas has developed a geological model of the Company’s Fish Lake Valley project.
Dr. Oldow’s work includes geologic mapping and the application of structural and stratigraphic analysis, along with field geophysics, GPS mapping and terrestrial laser scanning to advance understanding of regional tectonics. The model Dr. Oldow has created details stratigraphic descriptions of the basin reservoir and provides an understanding of where these structures exist within the basin. This extensive research is a major contributor to the strategy behind the Company’s drilling & exploration program.
The deep structural depressions beneath northern Fish Lake Valley reflect the intersection and superposition of two basin orientations. The west-northwest trending basin formed during an early history of north-south crustal stretching starting at about 23 Ma and continuing to about 15 Ma when a younger period of northwest-southeast stretching started. The younger period of stretching developed the north-northeast trending basins that are active today. The basin fills of both trends contribute to explain negative gravity anomalies observed above the structural depressions.
A grid of geologic sections, based on surface observations and well data, were constructed using three-dimensional gravity-depth inversion results as a preliminary constraint on the basin geometries. A best-fit solution for all geologic sections was used to estimate the internal distribution of stratigraphic units within each geologic section. Depth and thickness estimates of the upper basin deposits (exploration target) were extracted from the model grid and presented as a structural contour map.