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Research




The projects listed below are a random selection. Use criteria above to search by subject, feature, or region. Combining search criteria may provide few or no results.
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Geologic Mapping

Geological Mapping provides the underpinning of most research carried out by our organization. Our goal is to provide state-of-the-art geological maps of sufficient detail to be of benefit for practical applications for the state of New Mexico. These maps can address a wide range specific topics, such as location of geological resources, including mineral and petroleum resources and groundwater, geological hazards, which are all relevant to natural resource use, city planning, and education.

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Hydrogeology of the Albuquerque Basin

The Albuquerque Basin is one of the largest (8,000 km2, 3,060 mi2) and deepest basins (4,407-6,592 m, 14,500-21,600 ft) of the Rio Grande rift. This basin contains the largest metropolitan area in New Mexico. Until 2008, this region relied entirely on groundwater for its water supply. This sole reliance on groundwater resulted from an earlier view that Albuquerque lay on top of the subterranean equivalent of a vast underground lake that would take centuries to exploit. Since the 1960s, the City of Albuquerque had little reason to be concerned about its water supply because wells drilled in the northeast and southeast heights yielded large quantities of potable groundwater. The view of plentiful groundwater was essentially unchallenged until the late 1980s, when water level declines near Coronado Center provoked exploration of the deeper aquifer. Results of the deep aquifer test wells led to reassessment of the regional aquifer and the Middle Rio Grande Basin Project of the late 1990s.

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New Mexico: Regional Brackish Water Assessments

As New Mexico considers the use of desalinated brackish water (less than 10,000 mg/L total dissolved solid) to diversify the public water supply, many questions must first be answered. Where are the brackish water resources? What data are available? What exactly is the water chemistry? How feasible is it to use brackish water for public supply?

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Scientists Use Ancient Ore Deposits to Predict Ground Water Quality and Paleoclimate

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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Mark Nohl photo (courtesy of New Mexico Magazine)
Geochronologist studies missing rocks

Dr. Matthew Heizler (geochronologist) has just been awarded a three year grant from the NSF tectonics division to study the "Great Unconformity" exposed in western North America. An unconformity is a span of time for which no rock record is represented because it has been eroded away or because sediment was never deposited. The Great Unconformity was coined by John Wesley Powell during his epic run of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, AZ in 1876. Here he noticed that deformed ancient metamorphic rocks were covered by much younger undeformed sedimentary rocks. New Mexico has some of the best exposures of the contact between these very old Precambrian rocks (1.7 billion years) and younger sediments (300 million years) of anywhere in North America.

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A hydrogeologic investigation of Curry and Roosevelt Counties, New Mexico

As part of development of a regional source water protection plan, in 2015–2016 the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources performed a technical review of existing hydrogeology studies in Curry and Roosevelt counties in east-central New Mexico.

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Hydrogeologic Study of the Plains of San Agustin and the Alamosa Creek Valley

The AMP initiated a regional hydrogeologic study of the Plains of San Agustin and the Alamosa Creek Valley in October 2009 in response to questions and data needs from state agencies (NM OSE/ISC, NM EMNRD Mining and Minerals Division, and NMED). The issues relate to groundwater availability in the San Agustin basin and possible effects of mineral resource development on water quality in ecologically and culturally sensitive Warm Spring and Alamosa Creek near Monticello.

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El Camino Real Paleohydrogeology

In 2012, our Aquifer Mapping Program at the Bureau of Geology initiated a paleohydrogeology study in the area of El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro, which is a National Historic Trail designated by Congress. This study is part of the Mitigation Plan that is being implemented by Spaceport America, with funding from New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

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Sacramento Mountains Watershed Study

This study evaluated the hydrologic effects of tree thinning in a densely forested, high-elevation watershed (>8000 ft) in the Sacramento Mountains. It was a collaborative project between the Bureau of Geology, NM Tech, NM State University, and NM Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute (Highlands University) and funded three graduate students. In 2011, 400 acres of the watershed were thinned. Results can help water and land managers to apply vegetation management methods to maximize groundwater and surface water resources.

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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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