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Asbestos Minerals in New Mexico

Asbestos is a mineral group that consists of six different silicate minerals (Table 1) that can be fibrous in crystalline form. OSHA defines asbestos fiber as any particle that is 5 microns or longer, with a length-to-width ratio of 3 to 1 or longer. Asbestos minerals can be found in bundles of fibers, which can be separated from the host matrix. The fibers have high tensile strength. The aspect ratios range from 20 to 100. The fibers are flexible and can be spun (Virta, 2002).

TABLE 1. Asbestos minerals.
Mineral Formula
Serpentine mineral
 Chrysotile Mg3Si2O5(OH)4
Amphibole minerals
 Grunerite (amosite) Fe2 (Fe, Mg)5Si8O22(OH)2
 Riebeckite (crocidolite) Na2Fe25(Si8O22)(OH)2
 Anthophyllite Mg27(Si8O22)(OH)2
 Tremolite Ca2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2
 Actinolite Ca2(Mg, Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2

The term asbestos is typically used to identify commercial deposits of chrysotile, grunerite (commercially known as amosite or cummingtonite), and riebeckite (commercially known as crocidolite). Anthrophyllite, actinolite, and tremolite asbestos have no significant industrial applications. Asbestos minerals are found in a variety of mineral deposits and can pose a health risk, specifically asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothemlioma (Tweedale and McCulloch, 2004; Dodson and Hammer, 2006). Other amphibole minerals are known to occur as fibers or asbestoform habit (winchite, riechterite, and fluoro-edenite), but these minerals are not specifically listed in the asbestos regulations (Skinner et al., 1988; Van Gosen, 2007).

Figure 1 map
Asbestos minerals occurrences in mining districts in New Mexico.
(See Appendix 1 for details.)

In New Mexico, asbestos minerals are found in small amounts in some limestones adjacent to Laramide Cu and Pb–Zn skarn deposits, Laramide (polymetallic) vein deposits, Mo–W–Be contact metasomatic deposits, and porphyry copper deposits (Fig. 1, Appendix 1). Asbestos minerals are found in serpentinized ultramafic and mafic rocks in some Proterozoic terranes in New Mexico and can be associated with talc deposits. Asbestos is reported along the north bank of a creek near Highway 12, west of Reserve in Catron County. The amount of asbestos is so small in these areas in New Mexico that it is unlikely that asbestos minerals would be found in any alluvial deposits adjacent to these areas (Harris, 2004). At least one site in Torrance County has been designated as an official asbestos disposal site (Hawley, 1986).

There has been no reported production of asbestos minerals from New Mexico (Talmage and Wootton, 1937; Kottlowski, 1965; McLemore et al., 1996). However nonfibrous ricolite (a form of serpentine) has been produced from the Ricolite district in the Redrock area (Ricolite district) of the Burro Mountains for carving, decorative, and dimension stone (Talmage and Wootton, 1937; Benjovsky, 1946; McLemore et al., 1996). Fibrous ricolite also is found in the Redrock area.

Asbestos minerals are found in minor amounts in various geologic terranes throughout New Mexico (Figure 1, Appendix 1). The amount of asbestos is so small in these areas that it is unlikely that any health risk exists for residents and visitors in these areas. However, workers and others that could be exposed to dust in these areas that could contain asbestos minerals should have the dust examined for potential asbestos minerals and, if present, follow appropriate protection recommendations.


  1. Benjovsky, T.D., 1946, The New Mexico Ricolite Company Telegraph mining district, Grant County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Mines Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 14, 14 p.
  2. Dodson, R.F., and Hammar, S.P., eds., 2006, Asbestos−Risk assessment, epidemiology, and health effects: Boca Raton, Fla., Taylor & Francis Group, 425 p.
  3. Harris, R. C., 2004, Asbestos in Arizona: Arizona Geology, v. 34, no. 1, p. 1-4.
  4. Hawley, J.W., 1986, Environmental geology of the Keers Environmental, Inc. asbestos disposal site, Torrance County, New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 245, 19 p.
  5. Kottlowski, F.E., 1965, Talc, pyrophyllite and ricolite: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Bulletin 87, p. 296-298.
  6. McLemore, V.T., 2001, Silver and gold resources in New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Resource Map 21, 60 p.
  7. McLemore, V.T., Donahue, K., Krueger, C.B., Rowe, A., Ulbricht, L., Jackson, M.J., Breese, M.R., Jones, G., and Wilks, M., 2002, Database of the uranium mines, prospects, occurrences, and mills in New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open file Report 461, CD-ROM.
  8. McLemore, V.T., Sutphin, D.M., Hack, D.R., and Pease, T.C., 1996, Mining history and mineral resources of the Mimbres Resource Area, Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo, and Grant Counties, New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 424, 251 p.
  9. North, R.M. and McLemore, V.T., 1986, Silver and gold occurrences in New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Resource Map 15, 32 p., scale 1:1,000,000.
  10. Northrop, S.A., 1959, Minerals of New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 665 p.
  11. Northrop, S.A., 1996, Minerals of New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 356 p.
  12. Skinner, H.C.W., Ross, M., and Frondel, C., 1988, Asbestos and other fibrous materials−Mineralogy, crystal chemistry, and health effects: New York, Oxford University Press, 204 p.
  13. Talmage, S.B. and Wootton, T.P., 1937, The non-metallic mineral resources of New Mexico and their economic features: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Bulletin 12, 162 p.
  14. Tweedale, G., and McCulloch, J., 2004, Chrysophiles versus chrysophobes−The white asbestos controversy, 1950s-2004: Isis, v. 95, p. 239-259.
  15. Van Gosen, B.S., 2007, Reported historic asbestos mines, historic asbestos prospects, and natural asbestos occurrences in the Rocky Mountain states of the United States (Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming): U.S. Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2007-1182
  16. Virta, R.L., 2002, Asbestos: Geology, Mineralogy, Mining, and Uses: U. S. Geological Survey, Open-file Report 02-149, 28 p.


Mines and mining districts in New Mexico with reported occurrences of asbestos minerals (from Northrop, 1959, 1996; McLemore et al., 1996, 2002). Mine ID (mines identification number) and District ID (district identification number) are from the New Mexico Mines Database (McLemore et al., 2002). Types of deposits are after North and McLemore (1986) and McLemore (2001). Locations of districts are in Figure 1.

Note that none of these mines have any potential for economic development and the health risk would have to be evaluated if workers in the area could be exposed to dust particles. The occurrence of asbestos minerals does not imply a health risk, but that workers and residents should conduct tests to determine if asbestos particles are present in the dust.

Mine id County District ID District Mine name Township Range Section Latitude, latitude Rock type Type of deposit
NMDA0083 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Hilltop 21S 4E 29 32.4576
dolomite copper-lead-zinc skarn
NMDA0092 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Memphis 22S 3E 1 32.428264
limestone copper-lead-zinc skarn
NMDA0090 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Little Buck 21S 4E 30 32.455818
limestone copper-lead-zinc skarn
NMDA0098 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Ben Nevis 21S 4E 32 32.435327
pegmatite pegmatite
NMDA0097 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Quickstrike 21S 4E 32 32.437192
pegmatite pegmatite
NMDA0155 Dona Ana DIS030 Organ Mountains Stevenson-Bennett 22S 3E 11, 14 32.402316
dolostone carbonate-hosted Pb-Zn (Cu, Ag) replacment
NMGR0233 Grant DIS043 Bayard Ground Hog 18S 12W 5 32.769444
hornblende quartz diorite Laramide vein
NMGR0335 Grant DIS051 Copper Flat Copper Flat Magnetite 17S 12W 19 32.808333
limestone copper-lead-zinc skarn
NMGR0361 Grant DIS054 Fierro-Hanover Pewabic 17S 12W 22 32.818611
limestone Laramide skarn
NMGR0362 Grant DIS054 Fierro-Hanover Philadelphia 17S 12W 22 32.816667
limestone Laramide skarn
NMGR0208 Grant DIS054 Fierro-Hanover Hanover Mountain 17S 12W 6 32.833
granodiorite porphyry porphyry copper
NMGR0372 Grant DIS054 Fierro-Hanover Union Hill-Republic 17S 12W 16 32.833889
limestone Laramide skarn
NMGR0542 Grant DIS062 Pinos Altos Pinos Altos 23S 13W 31 32.265
NMGR0427 Grant DIS063 Ricolite Ricolite 18S 18W 16 32.7475
serpentine, granite dimension stone
NMHI0224 Hidalgo DIS080 Granite Gap Scheelite 25S 21W 27 32.105556
Tertiary granite contact with ls tungsten skarns
NMHI0260 Hidalgo DIS083 McGhee Peak North Star 24S 21W 27 32.181944
volcanics intercalated with conglomerate Laramide vein
NMHI0263 Hidalgo DIS083 McGhee Peak Silver Hill 25S 21W 3 32.163056
granite porphyry sill contacts limestone copper-lead-zinc skarn
NMHI0138 Hidalgo DIS088 Sylvanite Copper Dick 28S 16W 22 31.857222
monzonite, diorite Laramide skarn
NMHI0143 Hidalgo DIS088 Sylvanite Gold Hill 28S 16W 35 31.821111
monzonite and diorite Laramide vein
NMLI0113 Lincoln DIS091 Capitan Mountains Capitan Iron 8S 14E 10 33.622383
limestone Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMLI0307 Lincoln DIS091 Capitan Mountains Mino Tiro Estrella 27 8S 16E 33.576006
granite Great Plains margin-vein
NMLI0003 Lincoln DIS092 Gallinas American 1S 11E 22 34.21025
syenite intruded limestone Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMLI0039 Lincoln DIS092 Gallinas Rare Metals 1S 11E 22 34.206306
syenite, limestone Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMLI0312 Lincoln DIS092 Gallinas unknown 1S 11E 23 34.204495
limestone, sandstone Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMLI0313 Lincoln DIS092 Gallinas Iron Lamp 1S 11E 23 34.203951
limestone, sandstone Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMLI0064 Lincoln DIS099 White Oaks Yellow Jacket 6S 11E 22 33.770389
limestone Great Plains margin
NMLI0018 Lincoln DIS099 White Oaks Ferro 6S 11E 15, 16 33.785639
limestone Great Plains margin
NMLU0450 Luna DIS114 Victorio Gulf Oil Victorio Project 24S 12W 29 32.185537
granitic intrusion Mo-W-Be contact-metasomatic deposits
NMLU0467 Luna DIS114 Victorio Tungsten Hill 24S 12W 29 32.189161
limestone carbonate-hosted Pb-Zn (Cu, Ag) replacment
NMOt0026 Otero DIS129 Orogrande Cinco de Mayo 22S 8E 4 32.422231
garnetite and limestone near contact with monzonite Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMOt0038 Otero DIS129 Orogrande Iron Duke 22S 8E 4 32.423051
marble at contact with monzonite poprhyry Great Plains margin-iron skarn
NMOt0095 Otero DIS130 Pajarito Pajarito 12S 15E 25 33.243611
syenite, quartz syenite, alkali granite disseminated Y-Zr deposits in alkaline rocks
NMSM0112 San Miguel DIS164 Rociada Good Hope 19N 14E 16 35.869863
  Precambrian vein and replacements
NMSM0137 San Miguel DIS167 Willow Creek Pecos 18N 12E 27 35.75833
schist volcanic massive sulfide
NMSF0060 Santa Fe DIS189 Santa Fe Blacklite 17N 11E 22, 27 35.679882
schist volcanic massive sulfide
NMSF0095 Santa Fe DIS189 Santa Fe Jones Hill 17N 11E 1 35.73277
schist volcanic massive sulfide
NMSI0943 Sierra DIS192 Cuchillo South Peak 10S 8W 2 33.466306
limestone Mo-W-Be contact-metasomatic deposits
NMSI0976 Sierra DIS205 Tierra Blanca Grey Eagle 16S 9W 23 32.894614
limestone carbonate-hosted silver-manganese (Pb) replacment
NMSO0019 Socorro DIS216 Jones Camp Jones Camp 5S 7E 13,14 33.8681
limestone? Great Plains Margin-Fe skarn
NMTA0316 Taos DIS238 Red River-Rio Hondo Commodore 28N 14E   36.630041
  volcanic-epithermal vein
  Luna DIS105 Cooke's Peak           limestone carbonate-hosted silver-manganese (Pb) replacment
  Hidalgo DIS082 Lordsburg           limestone skarn
  Taos DIS148 Petaca           metamorphic  
  Taos DIS236 Picuris           metamorphic  
  Socorro DIS221 Magdalena           limestone skarn
  San Miguel DIS161 El Porvenior           metamorphic  
  Sierra DIS197 Hillsboro           limestone skarn
  San Miguel DIS162 Elk Mountain-Spring Mountain           metamorphic  
  Sierra DIS033 San Andrecito-
          metamorphic talc