Ice-age lakes in New Mexico

Bruce D. Allen
New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources

Ice-age lakes in New Mexico: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science,
Symposium on New Mexico's Ice Ages, Albuquerque,
2 February, 2004.


Estimates of lake surface area, drainage-basin area, and modern evaporation and precipitation for 11 of the pluvial lake basins in New Mexico have been obtained using available GIS coverages. These properties of the lake basins, coupled with an expression for the water budget, provide estimates of the hydrologic response of the basins to ice-age climate. Comparison of the lacustrine records from New Mexico to regional chronologies of hydrologic and climatic change requires information regarding the timing of the lake expansions. A continuous record of hydrologic change spanning the last glacial maximum has been reconstructed for the Lake Estancia basin of central New Mexico . The Lake Estancia record indicates wetter climatic conditions beginning approximately 40-45 kyrs B.P., culminating in a series of pluvial episodes beginning after 24 kyrs B.P. and lasting through the last glacial maximum and termination. Investigation of the geologic records of the ice-age lakes may also provide information about the tectonic development and hydrogeologic characteristics of their associated basins. Although a considerable amount of information regarding the ice-age lakes has been reported in the literature, basic information such as the maximum extent and timing of episodes of lake expansion is lacking for most of the lake basins in New Mexico.


Lake Estancia, climate, ice-age lakes