Environmental Geology and Hydrogeology

Our environmental geology and hydrogeology program is concerned with:

  • Determining potential and actual environmental impacts caused by development of mineral, water, and land resources.
  • Investigating potentially hazardous geologic processes such as landslides, debris flows, earthquakes, and land subsidence.
  • Siting of waste management facilities.
  • Measuring and documenting the geologic characteristics of aquifers.
  • Development of a comprehensive database on the subjects listed above.
debris flow deposits near Red River
Debris flow deposits near Red River, NM

Examples of Bureau of Geology Environmental Projects

  • A cooperative study of soil and indoor radon problems.
  • Mapping and analysis of debris flows, landslides, and subsidence-related features.
  • Characterization of the geologic composition and physical properties of major aquifers in New Mexico.
  • Geologic mapping and environmental evaluation of areas undergoing rapid development.
  • Evaluation of earthquake hazards in cooperation with the Department of Public Safety.
  • Providing geologic expertise to state and federal agencies, Indian tribes, and private industry.

These and other projects are accomplished through a combination of field work, laboratory studies, and mathematical modeling of geologic processes.

Applied research on ground-water resources is an important area of emphasis. Results are used for

  • Developing or protecting ground-water supplies.
  • Evaluating water-quality and pollution problems.
  • Evaluating abandoned mines and mine and mill wastes.
  • Evaluating and utilizing geothermal resources.
  • Public education.

Service and research activities include

  • Investigating and preparing reports on the ground-water geology and water resources of basin, county, and smaller-size areas.
  • Maintaining a database on water wells and ground-water chemistry.
  • Responding to requests for information from the public, other governmental agencies, industries and the research community.
  • Soils Laboratory

Recent Publications

Ground-water Resources

  • Preliminary results from the 98th Street stratigraphic core hole, Albuquerque, New Mexico, B. D. Stone, B. D. Allen, M. Mikolas, J. W. Hawley, P. Johnson, and M. R. Hudson, U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 97-116, pp. 21-25, 1997.
  • Depth-porosity relationships and virgin specific storage estimates for the upper Santa Fe Group aquifer system, central Albuquerque Basin, New Mexico, W. C. Haneberg, New Mexico Geology, v. 17, no. 4, pp. 62-71, 1995.
  • Hydrogeochemical computer modeling of proposed artificial recharge of the upper Santa Fe Group aquifer, Albuquerque, New Mexico, T. M. Whitworth, New Mexico Geology, v. 17, no. 4, pp. 72-78, 1995.
  • Permeability, porosity, and grain-size distribution of selected Pliocene and Quaternary sediments in the Albuquerque Basin, D. M. Detmer, New Mexico Geology, v. 17, no. 4, pp. 79-87, 1995.
  • Spatial distribution of calcite cement in the Santa Fe Group, Albuquerque Basin, New Mexico: Implications for ground-water resources, P. Mozley, J. Beckner, and T. M. Whitworth, New Mexico Geology, v. 17, no. 4, pp. 88-93, 1995.
  • Subsurface stratigraphy of the Santa Fe Group from borehole geophysical logs, Albuquerque area, New Mexico, S. D. Connell, B. D. Allen, and J. W. Hawley, New Mexico Geology, v. 20, no. 1, pp. 2-7, 1998.
  • Core drilling provides information about Santa Fe Group aquifer system beneath Albuquerque's West Mesa, B. D. Allen, S. D. Connell, J. W. Hawley, and B. D. Stone, New Mexico Geology, v. 20, no. 1, pp. 8-13, 1998.
  • Preliminary measurements of stress-dependent hydraulic conductivity of Santa Fe Group aquifer system sediments from the 98th Street core hole, Albuquerque, New Mexico, W. C. Haneberg, P. Gomez, A. Gibson, and B. Allred, New Mexico Geology, v. 20, no. 1, pp. 14-20, 1998.
  • Steady-state groundwater flow across idealized faults, W.C. Haneberg, Water Resources Research, v. 31, p. 1815-1820, 1995.
  • Tilts, strains, and ground-water levels near an earth fissure in the Mimbres Basin, New Mexico, W.C. Haneberg and R.L. Friesen, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 107, p. 316-326, 1995.
  • Effects of valley incision on the subsurface state of stress-- theory and application to the Rio Grande valley near Albuquerque, New Mexico, W. C. Haneberg, Environmental and Engineering Geoscience, in press.
  • Consolidation test results, triaxial permeability values, and particle size distributions, 98th Street ground-water monitoring well, Albuquerque, New Mexico, W. C. Haneberg, B. Allred, P. S. Swearingen, and A. Gibson, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Open-file Report 436, 126 pp., 1998.
  • Field boring log reports, City of Albuquerque piezometer nests, P. Johnson, S. D. Connell, B. Allred, and B. D. Allen, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Open-file Report 426, 116 pp., 5 logs, 5 figs., 1996.
  • General geology and ground-water occurrence in the El Paso area, T. Clieft and J. W. Hawley, Water Resources Research Institute Report 297, pp. 51-56, 1996.
  • Spillover models for axial rivers in regions of continental extension: The Rio Mimbres and Rio Grande in the southern Rio Grande rift, USA, G. H. Mack, D. W. Love, and W. R. Seager, Sedimentology, v. 44, pp. 637-652, 1997.
  • Rio Puerco sedimentation and water quality study: Preliminary findings report, C. Gorbach, D. Love, S. Piper, R. Davis, and A. Cross, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Albuquerque Area Office, 102 pp., 1996.
  • Oil, natural gas, and ground water in the San Juan Basin, a summary, R. F. Broadhead, New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, Proceedings of the 41st Annual New Mexico Water Conference, pp. 79-88, 1997.
  • Small watershed monthly hydrologic modeling system, B. Allred and C. T. Haan, Water Resources Bulletin, v. 32, no. 3, PAGES, 1996.
  • Geologic membrane controls on saturated zone heavy metal transport, T. M. Whitworth and G. DeRosa, Water Resources Research Institute Report 303, 88 pp., 1997.
  • Steady-state modeling of geologic membrane processes in aquifer systems, T. M. Whitworth, Proceedings WERC/WRHSRC/NMHWMS Joint Conference on the Environment, Albuquerque, March 31-April 2, 1998, pp. 37-41.

Environmental Geology and Geologic Hazards

  • Reconnaissance level investigation of trace metal sources, sinks, and transport in the upper Pecos River basin, New Mexico, C. J. Popp, D. Brandvold, K. Kirk, L. A. Brandvold, and V. T. McLemore, Report to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Cooperative Agreement no. 3-FC-4D-13830, 224 pp., 1996.
  • Soil lead distribution at an abandoned smelter site in Socorro, New Mexico, W.C. Haneberg, G.S. Austin, and L.A. Brandvold, Environmental Geology, v. 21, p. 90-95, 1993.
  • The effect of particle size distribution on the geochemistry of stream sediments from the upper Pecos River, San Miguel County, New Mexico, V. T. McLemore, L. A. Brandvold, A. M. Hossain, and T. C. Pease, New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook 46, pp. 323-329, 1995.
  • Lead content of plants and soils from three abandoned smelter areas in and near Socorro, New Mexico, L. A. Brandvold, B. R. Popp, and S. J. Swartz, Environmental Geochemistry and Health, v. 18, pp. 1-4, 1996.
  • A study of the analytical variation of sampling and analysis of stream sediments from mining and milling contaminated areas, L. A. Brandvold and V. T. McLemore, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, v., 64, pp. 185-196, 1999.
  • Cationic surfactant feasibility for use in removal of lead from soil, T. S. Kornecki, G. O. Brown, B. Allred, and N. Basta, Environmental Geosciences, v. 5, no. 1, pp. 29-38, 1998.
  • Experimental evidence for potential natural remediation of heavy metal plumes, G. DeRosa, T. M. Whitworth and V. W. Lueth, WERC/HSRC Joint Conference on the Environment, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 22-24, 1997, Proceedings, pp. 285-288.
  • The role of sand/shale interfaces in NAPL (nonaqueous-phase liquids) transport, T. M. Whitworth and C. Hsu, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Open-file Report 434, 204 pp., 7 figs., 1 table, 4 appendices, 1997.
  • Multilevel geologic hazard assessment mapping in the Rio Grande gorge, northern New Mexico, USA, W. C. Haneberg, P. W. Bauer, and W. X. Chavez, Geoenviron-mental Mapping: Method, Theory and Practice: International Union of Geological Sciences, in press.


Director / State Geologist Dr. Peter A. Scholle
Hydrogeologist Peggy S. Johnson
Senior Environmental Geologist Dr. David Love