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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.
AML Project: Inventory and Characterization of Inactive/abandoned mine (AML) features in New Mexico
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The NMBGMR has been examining the environmental effects of mine waste rock piles throughout New Mexico since the early 1990s. There are tens of thousands of inactive or abandoned mine features in 274 mining districts in New Mexico (including coal, uranium, metals, and industrial minerals districts), however many of them have not been inventoried or prioritized for reclamation. The New Mexico Abandoned Mine Lands Bureau of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department estimates that there are more than 15,000 abandoned mine features in the state. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently estimated that more than 10,000 mine features are on BLM lands in New Mexico and only 705 sites have been reclaimed. The U.S. Park Service has identified 71 mine features in 7 parks in New Mexico, of which 12 have been mitigated and 34 require mitigation. Additional sites have been reclaimed by the responsible companies and the Superfund program (CERCLA).

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources has collected published and unpublished data on the districts, mines, deposits, occurrences, and mills since it was created in 1927 and is slowly converting historical data into a relational database, the New Mexico Mines Database. More than 8,000 mines are recorded in the New Mexico Mines Database and more than 7,000 are inactive or abandoned. These mines often include two or more actual mine features.

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Ice layers in Antarctica hold secrets to the global climate past
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A team of scientists from the Bureau of Geology has spent many Antarctic summers sampling layers of volcanic ash trapped between layers of ice to learn about climate conditions that existed at the time of the ice deposition. While the volcanic ash can be dated to constrain the time of deposition, oxygen isotope signatures in the ice reveal clues about temperatures that existed as the layers were deposited.

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New Mexico: Regional Brackish Water Assessments
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As New Mexico considers the use of desalinated brackish water (less than 10,000 mg/L total dissolved solid) to diversify the public water supply, many questions must first be answered. Where are the brackish water resources? What data are available? What exactly is the water chemistry? How feasible is it to use brackish water for public supply?

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Geologic Mapping
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Geological Mapping provides the underpinning of most research carried out by our organization. Our goal is to provide state-of-the-art geological maps of sufficient detail to be of benefit for practical applications for the state of New Mexico. These maps can address a wide range specific topics, such as location of geological resources, including mineral and petroleum resources and groundwater, geological hazards, which are all relevant to natural resource use, city planning, and education.

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Uplift of the Tibetan Plateau: Insights from cosmogenic exposure ages of young lava flows
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The Tibetan plateau is a product of the most dramatic tectonic event of recent geological history: the collision of the Indian sub-continent with Eurasia. In spite of the topographic and tectonic implications of the plateau, the mechanisms for its uplift remain controversial. The controversy is in large part a result of poorly constrained uplift history. Types of evidence that have been adduced for the uplift history include paleoecological date, cooling histories of plutonic and igneous rocks, and geomorphic interpretations. Some lines of evidence indicate relatively gradual uplift since the mid-Tertiary, while others support rapid acceleration of uplift during the latest Cenozoic, with the greatest portion during the Quaternary.

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Hydrologic Assessment of the San Juan Basin
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The San Juan Basin, an important source of oil and gas located in northwestern New Mexico, has recently experienced renewed production from the Cretaceous Mancos Shale through the use of horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing. The Bureau of Land Management commissioned this study of the possible impacts of new exploration and development of this resource on the land surface and on the groundwater supply.

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Geothermal Resources in New Mexico

New Mexico currently utilizes low and intermediate temperature geothermal resources for aquaculture, greenhouses, recreation, district heating, and space heating. In recent years there has been renewed interest in exploring and developing these geothermal resources, and in determining the sustainability of existing resources statewide.

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Geochronologist studies missing rocks
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Mark Nohl photo (courtesy of New Mexico Magazine)

Dr. Matthew Heizler (geochronologist) has just been awarded a three year grant from the NSF tectonics division to study the "Great Unconformity" exposed in western North America. An unconformity is a span of time for which no rock record is represented because it has been eroded away or because sediment was never deposited. The Great Unconformity was coined by John Wesley Powell during his epic run of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, AZ in 1876. Here he noticed that deformed ancient metamorphic rocks were covered by much younger undeformed sedimentary rocks. New Mexico has some of the best exposures of the contact between these very old Precambrian rocks (1.7 billion years) and younger sediments (300 million years) of anywhere in North America.

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A hydrogeologic investigation of Curry and Roosevelt Counties, New Mexico

As part of development of a regional source water protection plan, in 2015–2016 the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources performed a technical review of existing hydrogeology studies in Curry and Roosevelt counties in east-central New Mexico.

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Hydrogeologic Study of the Plains of San Agustin and the Alamosa Creek Valley
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The AMP initiated a regional hydrogeologic study of the Plains of San Agustin and the Alamosa Creek Valley in October 2009 in response to questions and data needs from state agencies (NM OSE/ISC, NM EMNRD Mining and Minerals Division, and NMED). The issues relate to groundwater availability in the San Agustin basin and possible effects of mineral resource development on water quality in ecologically and culturally sensitive Warm Spring and Alamosa Creek near Monticello.

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