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Bulletin 71—Mineral resources of Taos County, New Mexico

By J. H. Schilling, 1960, reprinted 1982, 124 pp, 3 tables, 43 figs., 2 plates, 1 index.

Taos County has yielded a variety of metals and minerals, and has excellent future possibilities. Early prospecting was mainly for gold and copper, but production was small. Later, the county became an important producer of molybdenum, perlite, beryl, tantalum, and lithium. Smaller amounts of optical calcite, tungsten, scoria, silver, lead, zinc, bismuth, sand and gravel, and limestone also have been mined.

Precambrian pegmatites and copper- and tungsten-bearing quartz veins occur in the Picuris and Taos Ranges. Deposits of kyanite and sillmanite, graphite, and iron oxides are found in the Precambrian rocks in the mountains. Abundant limestone and a little impure "coal" are found in the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the Tres Ritos Hills. Miocene hydrothermal veins and disseminated deposits, mainly in the Taos Range, contain molybdenum, copper, lead-zinc, gold, silver, and fluorite; disseminated deposits of molybdenum and copper may occur in the altered area along the Red River. Gold placers are found along the valleys in the Taos Range and along the Rio Grande and its tributaries in the Taos Plateau. Pleistocene perlite and scoria deposits are found on the Taos Plateau. Sand and gravel are widespread and abundant.

Some of the mineral deposits that have not been mined show possibilities for future profitable exploration. More detailed study is needed to evaluate such possibilities properly. This report provides information of value to persons interested in the mineral resources of Taos County, NM.

Sections covering the geographic features, geologic setting, and mining history and production are included to give background information. The geology and geographic distribution of the various types of mineral deposits in the county are given, and the prospects and mines that explore and develop each group are listed. The individual mines and prospects, grouped geographically, are described in varying detail. The future possibilities and guides for exploration and development are given for each substance but not for individual prospects; economic considerations are not covered in any detail.

It is hoped that this report will encourage the development of Taos County's mineral resources by providing a foundation for more detailed work. It is not designed to replace the more detailed studies of certain areas, but rather to complement them. Information contained in other reports has been summarized, and publications containing pertinent information not included are mentioned at appropriate places in the text. In addition, much previously unpublished information has been incorporated, which otherwise might be lost through the caving of workings, the destruction of records, and the death of eye witnesses.

Two types of work were done: (1) examination in the field, and (2) compilation of previous studies. Although the location of many of the mines, prospects, and other mineral occurrences were known before they were visited, many others were located by a series of traverses by car and on foot. No attempt was made to cover the county so intensively that every prospect would be located - to do so would provide few additional data while increasing the time consumed manifold.

The mineral deposits were examined in varying detail. Many were mapped; the surface features usually by plateable methods, and the underground workings by Brunton compass and tape. Specimens showing the mineralization, alteration, and country rock were collected for laboratory study and assays. The field work was done during 1959. A careful study of the literature was mode for other information. In addition, much published information was gathered from individuals, company records, and the files of the NM Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources.

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