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Truth or Consequences
Geothermal Resource Assessment

The City of Truth or Consequences has contracted NM Tech Earth and Environmental Science Department and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology to undertake a 1-year field and hydrologic modeling study focused on the sustainability of geothermal resources. The NM Bureau of Geology and the Aquifer Mapping Program will provide additional funding and support for this study.

This study will focus both on the discharge area within the downtown as well as determine the lateral extent of the flow system to the west and north. The goals include:

Data collection:

TorC study area
  • Collect field measurements to compare present-day hydrologic and thermal conditions within the Truth or Consequences geothermal resource area to those the reported in the study of Theis et al. (1941).
  • Conduct slug tests within available wells.
  • Determine the elevations of well top of casings in the downtown area to ±0.02 feet using surveying methods.
  • Measure Rio Grande discharge and salinity upstream/downstream of the city of Truth or Consequences.
  • Measure temperature as a function of depth in “deep” monitoring wells to evaluate vertical flow parameters in the system.
  • Collection water samples for 14C age-dating, major and trace ion geochemistry, and 18O and 2H stable isotopes precipitation, snow, and groundwater.

Data analysis:

  • Produce updated (2012) water table, temperature, and salinity maps for the downtown area.
  • Analysis and interpretation of geochemical water sampling results.
  • Develop a three-dimensional groundwater flow model using MODFLOW (McDonald and Harbaugh, 1988) in order to determine past, present, and future hydrologic conditions. The model will be calibrated using the hydrologic stress and water table information from Theis et al. (1941) and from 2012-2013 data collected for this study.
  • Development of an east-west cross-sectional hydrothermal model (FEMOCP; Person et al. 2008) from recharge to discharge area within the Truth or Consequences Geothermal Resource Area. The goal of this model will be to determine (a) the depth of circulation of geothermal waters and (b) the lateral extent of the recharge area to the west and north. We will attempt to calibrate the geothermal model using temperature and isotopic data collected as part of this study.

Preparation of a final report will assess the long-term sustainability of the geothermal resources for the city of Truth or Consequences under current and different possible future pumping conditions using the groundwater flow model MODFLOW. We also hope to determine a safe aquifer yield that will sustain hot spring discharge in perpetuity. The report will be completed within one year (October 3, 2013).

Funded by the City of Truth or Consequences to New Mexico Tech, support also from Aquifer Mapping Program and Bureau of Geology.

For more information, please contact:
Mark Person, Professor of Hydrology, NMT

AMP-Relevant Publications

Assessment of the Sustainability of Geothermal Development within the Truth or Consequences Hot-Springs District, New Mexico

Available for free download.

Open-file Report 551, October, 2013,

Principal Investigators: Mark Person and Fred Phillips (New Mexico Tech Hydrology Program),
Shari Kelley and Stacy Timmons (New Mexico Bureau of Geology& Mineral Resources),
Students: Jeff Pepin, Luke Blom, and Kim Haar
Co-Investigator: Mark Murphy

Progress Report, July 2013

Available for free download.

Power Point Presentation, July 2013, Mark Person and Fred Phillips (New Mexico Tech Hydrology Program),
Shari Kelly and Stacy Timmons (New Mexico Bureau of Geology& Mineral Resources).

Progress Report, January 2013

Available for free download.

Power Point Presentation, January 2013, Mark Person and Fred Phillips (New Mexico Tech Hydrology Program), Shari Kelly and Stacy Timmons (New Mexico Bureau of Geology& Mineral Resources).

Selected References

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