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Circular 85—Mercury content of stream sediments—a geochemical survey of the Magdalena mining district, New Mexico

By F. Missaghi, 1966, 26 pp., 2 tables, 20 figs., 1 sheet.

The geochemical survey of the Magdalena mining district is one in a continuing series of similar studies made by the NM Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources. In this study, an attempt has been made to establish the presence of mercury and the extent of its anomalies in stream sediments. It is known that dispersion of mercury above some hydrothermal ore deposits can be used as an aid in prospecting (Saukov, 1946; Hawks and Webb, 1962). Most studies of mercury dispersion are conducted by sampling the bedrock and, in some instances, by running soil analyses. A concurrent analysis of samples for this survey for lead, zinc, molybdenum, and copper was necessary to trace any possible relationship between anomalies of mercury and other metals of the district. The data thus obtained can be used in probing the area adjacent to the Magdalena district.

A geochemical bedrock traverse survey of the district was undertaken to establish the local threshold of lead, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and mercury in bedrock. Although an improvement in the detecting technique of mercury was not planned at the beginning, it became necessary to make some improvements in the process of analysis in order to obtain more accurate results.  The Magdalena mining district lies in Socorro County in the central part of NM about 65 mi south of Albuquerque and 28 mi west of Socorro. The investigated area is near the north end of the Magdalena Mountains, lying mostly on the west slope. The mining camp of Kelly was adjacent to the most productive area and was the largest camp in the district. The town of Magdalena is 3 mi from the principal mines and at the end of the branch line of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway which leaves the main line at Socorro. Access to the district is provided by U.S. Highway 60 which passes through the town of Magdalena. Elevation of the district ranges from 6,025 ft at its northeast corner to 9,650 ft at the southeast corner on the crest of the range.

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