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Research




The projects listed below are a random selection. Use criteria above to search by keyword, subject, feature, or region. Combining search criteria may provide few or no results.
Estancia Basin is a laboratory for climate research
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Estancia basin meteorological station

Bruce D. Allen, Bureau of Geology field geologist, is studying the hydrology of the playa lakes in the Estancia basin in order to reconstruct major changes in climate that have affected this region in the past. Dr. Allen and researchers from the University of New Mexico have instrumented the playas with a network of meteorological stations and piezometers to track seasonal changes in climate and groundwater flow systems.

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Long Term Groundwater Monitoring in the Animas Valley
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Our agency has been collaborating with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on a hydrogeology study along the Animas River in New Mexico in response to the Gold King Mine spill, which occurred in August 2015. The water released from the spill was loaded with dissolved metals and contaminated sediments, which posed a possible risk to groundwater quality in the Animas Valley.

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Springs and Wetlands at La Cienega
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The bureau has been involved in a comprehensive study of the geohydrology of the wetlands in the vicinity of La Cienega, south of Santa Fe, since 2011. These springs and wetlands occur where local groundwater flows intersect the surface. They provide an important source of water for domestic and agricultural use as well as wildlife.

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Estimating Groundwater Recharge for the Entire State of New Mexico
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Groundwater is replenished by a process called recharge, where snowmelt and rain infiltrates through the soil and slowly moves through the subsurface to eventually reach an aquifer. Because groundwater recharge defines a limit for the availability of groundwater, estimating recharge for the state of New Mexico is necessary for effective water resource management.

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Northeastern Tularosa Basin Regional Hydrogeology Study
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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.

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Hydrogeology of the La Cienega & La Cieneguilla Wetlands
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Building on its basin-scale hydrogeologic studies of the Española Basin (2003-2010), in 2010-2013 the Aquifer Mapping Program helped develop a better understanding of the groundwater contribution to the wetlands around La Cienega. This work was completed with collaboration and support from NMED, NMOSE, Santa Fe County, and USF&WS.

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Cosmogenic dating of young basaltic lava flows
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Cosmogenic dating techniques have been successfully applied to dating of geomorphically-young surfaces, such as glacial moraines, beach terraces, and basaltic lava flows that have intact surface features, and hence have undergone little erosion (e.g. Phillips et al., 1997a and b; Phillips et al, in review, Dunbar and Phillips, 1996; Zreda et al., 1991, 1993; Zreda, 1994; Anthony and Poths, 1992, Laughlin et al., 1994). These techniques rely on measurement of cosmogenic nuclides that begin to build up as soon as a rock is exposed to cosmic rays. Therefore, cosmogenic techniques can be applied to dating of any surface that is composed of material that was not exposed to cosmic rays prior to formation of the surface, and has been exposed more-or-less continuously since. In the case of an extrusive volcanic rock, buildup of cosmogenic nuclides begins when the rock is erupted, so measurement of the ratio of a cosmogenic isotope to a non-cosmogenic isotope can provide an estimate of eruption age (Phillips et al., 1986).

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San Juan Basin - Oil & Gas Resource Assessments

The bureau has been involved for many years in studying the geologic framework and petroleum geology of the Mancos Shale, in the San Juan Basin of northwest New Mexico. Development of resources within the Mancos Shale are likely to constitute a large portion of future oil and natural gas production in the state.

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Hydrogeology of the Albuquerque Basin
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The Albuquerque Basin is one of the largest (8,000 km2, 3,060 mi2) and deepest basins (4,407-6,592 m, 14,500-21,600 ft) of the Rio Grande rift. This basin contains the largest metropolitan area in New Mexico. Until 2008, this region relied entirely on groundwater for its water supply. This sole reliance on groundwater resulted from an earlier view that Albuquerque lay on top of the subterranean equivalent of a vast underground lake that would take centuries to exploit. Since the 1960s, the City of Albuquerque had little reason to be concerned about its water supply because wells drilled in the northeast and southeast heights yielded large quantities of potable groundwater. The view of plentiful groundwater was essentially unchallenged until the late 1980s, when water level declines near Coronado Center provoked exploration of the deeper aquifer. Results of the deep aquifer test wells led to reassessment of the regional aquifer and the Middle Rio Grande Basin Project of the late 1990s.

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Southern Sacramento Mountains Hydrogeology Study
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The goals of this study were to delineate areas of groundwater recharge, determine directions and rates of groundwater movement, and better understand the interactions between different aquifers and between the groundwater and surface water systems. Data collected from 2005 to 2009 include geologic mapping, frequent water level measurements in wells, single time and repeated well and spring sampling, precipitation measurement and sampling, fracture orientation measurements, and stream flow measurements.

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