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Research




The projects listed below are a random selection. Use criteria above to search by keyword, subject, feature, or region. Combining search criteria may provide few or no results.
Lifetime projections for the High Plains Aquifer in east-central New Mexico
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Several thousand water-level measurements spanning over 50 years, from over a thousand wells, were used to create aquifer lifetime projections for the High Plains Aquifer in east-central New Mexico.

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Cosmogenic dating of young basaltic lava flows
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Cosmogenic dating techniques have been successfully applied to dating of geomorphically-young surfaces, such as glacial moraines, beach terraces, and basaltic lava flows that have intact surface features, and hence have undergone little erosion (e.g. Phillips et al., 1997a and b; Phillips et al, in review, Dunbar and Phillips, 1996; Zreda et al., 1991, 1993; Zreda, 1994; Anthony and Poths, 1992, Laughlin et al., 1994). These techniques rely on measurement of cosmogenic nuclides that begin to build up as soon as a rock is exposed to cosmic rays. Therefore, cosmogenic techniques can be applied to dating of any surface that is composed of material that was not exposed to cosmic rays prior to formation of the surface, and has been exposed more-or-less continuously since. In the case of an extrusive volcanic rock, buildup of cosmogenic nuclides begins when the rock is erupted, so measurement of the ratio of a cosmogenic isotope to a non-cosmogenic isotope can provide an estimate of eruption age (Phillips et al., 1986).

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Long Term Groundwater Monitoring in the Animas Valley
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Our agency has been collaborating with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on a hydrogeology study along the Animas River in New Mexico in response to the Gold King Mine spill, which occurred in August 2015. The water released from the spill was loaded with dissolved metals and contaminated sediments, which posed a possible risk to groundwater quality in the Animas Valley.

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Development of 3D Aquifer Maps

It is surprising that New Mexico does not have a detailed map of all of the productive and accessible aquifers across the state. In a state with as little as 0.24% of our land surface covered with water (the least in the country!), having detailed maps of our groundwater resources and aquifers, is essential. Some of our neighboring states, like Texas and Colorado, have these maps already available, and are successfully being used to administer and conserve water. We have started a new multi-year project to develop 3D maps of aquifers.

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Scientists Use Ancient Ore Deposits to Predict Ground Water Quality and Paleoclimate
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Two Bureau of Geology scientists, in collaboration with scientists at the United State Geological Survey, have discovered similarities between ground water systems that formed ore deposits 10 million years ago and modern ground water in the Rio Grande Rift. They reported their work in an invited presentation at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Dr. Virgil Lueth, mineralogist/ economic geologist, and Lisa Peters, senior lab associate at the New Mexico Geochronological Research Lab, have been studying the mineral jarosite in ore deposits from Chihuahua, Mexico, to Albuquerque.

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Springs and Wetlands at La Cienega
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The bureau has been involved in a comprehensive study of the geohydrology of the wetlands in the vicinity of La Cienega, south of Santa Fe, since 2011. These springs and wetlands occur where local groundwater flows intersect the surface. They provide an important source of water for domestic and agricultural use as well as wildlife.

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Dating the Sands of Time

A new dating method, being developed at the NMBG&MR, uses our state-of-the-art geochronology laboratory, funded by NSF and NM Tech, to determine the age of detrital sanidine (tiny volcanic minerals) from sediments.

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Hydrogeology of Union County
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The AMP has collaborated with Northeastern SWCD to characterize and map sources of groundwater in the Ogallala and deep bedrock aquifers in east-central Union County. Limited water resources from these border aquifers are supporting the Village of Clayton, as well as rural ranch communities and center-pivot agriculture in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

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Hydrogeology of the Española Basin & Santa Fe Area
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The southern Española Basin, in the Santa Fe region, was the focus of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary hydrogeologic study by the Aquifer Mapping Program, in collaboration with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (NMOSE), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other agencies. The purpose of this study was to improve the understanding of the water resources within the basin, which serves as the primary source of drinking water for most of the area’s population.

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Monitoring the recovery of Santa Fe's Buckman Water Well Field
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High-production municipal water well fields can depress water levels, cause land subsidence, and disturb subsurface aquifer temperatures. As an example, the City of Santa Fe’s Buckman well field located along the Rio Grande, was pumped at high rates from 1989 to 2003. This high-rate pumping led to a precipitous drop in water level (>100 m), caused measureable ground subsidence over a 25 km2 area (based on 1995-1997 InSAR [satellite-based] data), and created a land-surface fissure with 20 cm of vertical displacement. Pumping rates were reduced after 2003 and water levels have since risen ~120 m.

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