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Northeastern Tularosa Basin Regional Hydrogeology Study

The population centers in Alamogordo, Carrizozo, La Luz, and numerous other small communities, are largely supported by groundwater resources. With few perennial streams in this closed basin, water is sparse. Fresh water resources are limited, and recharge to these areas originates within the high elevation watersheds in the Sacramento Mountains, as precipitation, stream and spring flow. This goal of this study was to improve understanding of the groundwater resources in this region by identifying recharge areas and quantities, determining groundwater flow rates and direction, and to interpret the groundwater/surface water interactions that exist in the region. Methods used in this effort included geologic mapping, groundwater level measurements, and geochemical analyses of the groundwater, springs and streams. Findings include:

  • Dominant recharge is from mountain front recharge —where perennial and ephemeral streams enter the basin—estimated at approximately 45,324 acre-feet /year
  • Some recharge enters the eastern Tularosa Basin by mountain blockrecharge—where groundwater flows in the subsurface from the high Sacramento Mountains—at an estimated 22,577 acre-feet /year
  • Estimates indicate that more recharge enters the Tularosa Basin in the southern portion of the basin than the central or northern regions
  • Water quality is a direct reflection of the geologic bedrock, where rocks dominant in Ca-SO4 or SiO2 create waters that have a similar signature
  • Groundwater ages are variable from about 1000 years to more than 27,000 years old

Funded by the New Mexico State Legislature through Otero SWCD, the Bureau of Geology, and the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (STATEMAP).

For more information, please contact:
Ethan A. Mamer, Hydrogeologist
Stacy Timmons, Hydrogeologist / Aquifer Mapping Program Manager

AMP-Relevant Publications

Northeastern Tularosa Basin, Regional Hydrogeology Study, New Mexico

Available for free download.

Open-file Report 562
2014, Ethan A. Mamer, B. Talon Newton, Daniel J. Koning, Stacy S. Timmons, and Shari A. Kelley

Regional Water Table Map of the Northeastern Tularosa Basin region, Otero and Lincoln Counties, New Mexico

Available for free download.

Open-file Report 561
2014, Lewis Land, Brigitte Felix, and Talon Newton

Selected References

  1. Allen, B.D.; Koning, D.; Frechette, J.; and Kelley, S.A., 2008, Geologic map of the Sabinata Flat quadrangle, Otero County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 184, pp. 1:24,000.
  2. Cikoski, C.T.; Koning, D.J.; Kelley, S.A.; and Zeigler, K.E., 2011, Geologic map of the Church Mountain quadrangle, Sandoval County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 215.
  3. Goff, F.; Kelley, S.A.; Lawrence, J.R.; Cikoski, C.T.; Krier, D.; Goff, C.J.; and McLemore, V.T., 2011, Geologic map of the Nogal Peak quadrangle, Lincoln and Otero counties, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 134.
  4. Kelley, S.A., Koning, D.J., and Allen, B., 2014, Preliminary Geologic Map of the Tularosa and Bent Region, northeastern Tularosa Basin, Otero County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 564.
  5. Kelley, S.A. and Kempter, K., 2008, Geologic map of the Cat Mountain quadrangle, Otero County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 183, pp. 1:24,000.
  6. Koning, D.J.; Kelley, S.A.; and Goff, F., 2014, Preliminary Geologic Map of the Northeastern Tularosa Basin and Western Sierra Blanca Basin, Lincoln and Otero Counties, New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 563.
  7. Koning, D.J.; Cikoski, C.T.; and Kempter, K., 2012, Preliminary geologic map of the Carrizozo area, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 548.
  8. Koning, D.J.; Kempter, K.A.; Zeigler, K.E.;and Cikoski, C.T., 2011, Geologic map of the Cub Mountain quadrangle, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 138
  9. Koning , D.J., 2010, Comparison of alluvial fan geomorphology, sedimentation, and erosion along the eastern margin of the Tularosa Basin, New Mexico (abs.), in: New Mexico Geological Society, 2010 Annual Spring Meeting, April 16, Abstracts with Programs, New Mexico Institute Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico, New Mexico Geology, v. 32, no. 2, pp. 60.
  10. Koning, D.J., 2010, Preliminary geologic map of the Carrizozo East quadrangle, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 211.
  11. Koning, D.J., 2010, Preliminary geologic map of the Oscura quadrangle, Lincoln and Otero Counties, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 198, pp. 1:24,000.
  12. Koning, D.J., 2009, Geologic map of the Three Rivers quadrangle, Otero County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 187, pp. 1:24,000.
  13. Koning, D.J. and Frechette, J., 2008, Preliminary geologic map of the Tularosa quadrangle, Otero County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 179, pp. 1:24,000.
  14. Koning, D.J. and Kelley, S.A., 2008, Preliminary geologic map of the Tularosa NE 7.5 minute quadrangle map, Otero County, New Mexico New Mexico Bureau of Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map 185 1:24,000.
  15. Mamer, E.A.; Newton, B.T.; Timmons, S.; Koning, D.J.; Land, L.A., 2014, Recharging the Tularosa Basin, in: New Mexico Geological Society, Annual Spring Meeting, April 11, 2014, Macey Center, New Mexico Institute Mining Technology, Socorro, New Mexico.
  16. Myers, R.G.; Allen, B. D.; and Love, D. W., 2008, Malpais Spring and Malpais Salt Marsh, southern Tularosa Basin, New Mexico (abs.) New Mexico Geological Society, Annual Spring Meeting New Mexico Geology Journal, Vol. 30, 30-59 p.
  17. Rawling, G.C., 2011, Geology of the Capitan and Nogal quadrangles, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 538.
  18. Rawling, G.C. and Koning, D.J., 2011, Geologic map of the White Oaks South quadrangle, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 216, pp. 1:24000.
  19. Rawling, G.C., 2010, Geologic map of the Nogal quadrangle, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 195.
  20. Rawling, G.C., 2008, Geology of the Ruidoso area, Lincoln and Otero Counties, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 507, CD-ROM.
  21. Rawling, G.C., 2007, Geology of the Ruidoso Area, Lincoln and Otero Counties, New Mexico, New Mexico Geological Society, 2007 Annual Spring Meeting New Mexico Geology Journal, Vol. 29, 66 p.
  22. Zeigler, K.E. and Allen, B.D., 2012, A preliminary geologic map of the Bull Gap quadrangle, Lincoln County, southeastern New Mexico, in: New Mexico Geological Society, 2012 Annual Spring Meeting, April 27th, Socorro, NM, New Mexico Geology, v. 34, no. 2, pp. 57.
  23. Zeigler, K.E. and Allen, B.D., 2010, Geologic map of the Bull Gap quadrangle, Lincoln County, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Geologic Map, v. OF-GM 210.