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Bulletin 8—The ore deposits of Socorro County, New Mexico 

By S. G. Lasky, 1932, reprinted 1971, 1973, 1976, 1983, 139 pp., 21 figs., 4 plates.

Presents the investigation results of the ore deposits in Socorro County. Socorro County, the largest political subdivision in NM, presents a great diversity of physiographic and geologic features. This bulletin embodies the results of an investigation of the ore deposits of this interesting area.

In 1904, with the cooperation of the NM Territorial Board of Managers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, a report was published by Fayette A. Jones. This volume included descriptions of several districts and camps in Socorro County. The county was visited by L. C. Graton and C. H. Gordon in 1905 in connection with a general reconnaissance of the state made by the USGS, and their reports were published in 1910 as part of a general report. Most of the field work leading to the present report was done by the writer in the summer and fall of 1929, but the field work in the Socorro Peak district was not completed until the spring of 1931. Additional work was done in the San Jose district in April 1932, following the discovery of the Pankey vein in the summer of 1931. The writing of the report was delayed by other assignments.

The writer has attempted to give a fairly complete description of each mining district based as much as possible on his own observations, and to discuss the future possibilities as fully as seemed warranted. In many places, however, the mines and prospects had been idle so long that workings were inaccessible, and many statements in these descriptions are based on information which could not be verified. Such information has been discriminated in the text from statements based on the writer's own observations, particularly where it has some bearing on the discussion of future possibilities. It is believed that the detailed descriptions which form the body of this report include practically all reported occurrences of metallic minerals in the county, with the exception of iron and manganese. These will probably be covered by a separate report at some future date. Two contact-metamorphic iron deposits which are of particular interest are included. They are the Jones Camp deposit and a deposit north of Fairview. The descriptions of these two deposits are briefly abstracted from reports by others.

Socorro County covers an irregular area of approximately 7,550 mi2 in the southwest-central part of the state. Plate 1, a map showing the location of the principal mining districts, shows also the relation of Socorro County to the adjoining counties. At one time Socorro County included what is now Catron County and continued as far westward as the AZ state line. The two counties were separated July 1, 1921. Socorro, the county seat, is situated on the west bank of the Rio Grande at about the center of the county.

Socorro County lies in an area of desert basins out of which a number of mountain peaks and ranges rise abruptly. The highest point in the county is Big Baldy in the Magdalena Mountains, which has an elevation of over 10,830 ft; the lowest elevation is about 4,400 ft where the Rio Grande leaves the county.

The Rio Grande valley roughly bisects the county in a north and south direction and is the chief physiographic feature. In the northern part of the county the valley is bounded on the west by the Ladrones, Lemitar, and Socorro Mountains, named from north to south. South of the Socorro Mountains the west side of the valley spreads out to the rugged San Mateo Mountains which confine it as far as the southern boundary of the county. On the east side of the Rio Grande and at the north end of the county, the valley abuts against the Los Pinos Mountains, which are a continuation of the Sandia-Manzano uplift. Southward the valley merges more gradually into the ragged hills and plateaus which line the east side from the Joyita Hills, west of the Los Pinos Mountains, to Carthage. South of Carthage the Rio Grande depression is separated from the Jornada del Muerto by a divide which is only a few hundred feet higher than the river elevation.  

Below the general level of the Rio Grande valley proper and bounded by the roughly dissected terraces along its banks is the flood plain of the river. The land of this flood plain is irrigated and supports profitable small farms and orchards. The principle towns and settlements and the main routes of travel are located in this area. The principal tributary streams are the Rio Puerco, north of the Ladrones Mountains; the Rio Salado which occupies the valley between the Ladrones Mountains on the north and the Bear and Lemitar Mountains on the south; Mulligan Gulch between the Magdalena and the San Mateo Mountains; and the Alamosa River which drains the western and southern parts of the San Mateo Mountains. All these streams drain the area west of the Rio Grande.

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