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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.
Hydrogeology of the Placitas Area
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The characterization of the Placitas area hydrology, located in the foothills of the northern Sandia Mountains, was an important step for water resource planning and development. Due to increased population and demand on groundwater supplies, with drought conditions in the mid-1990s, local water levels were declining. The Bureau of Geology initiated this study in 1997 to characterize the availability and quality of groundwater and surface water resources in the Placitas area.

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Helium Resources in New Mexico
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Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe but is rare on Earth. Helium has unique physical and chemical properties that render it indispensable to our modern technological society – it is requisite for the operation of MRI instruments and in the manufacture of computer chips and fiber optic cables. However, helium gas deposits are rare, and helium is typically a trace component of natural gases being emitted at the Earth’s surface. As established supplies have become stressed, the price of helium gas has increases from $18 per thousand ft3 to more than $200 per thousand ft3. Helium has been mined in New Mexico, and the location of helium resources has been mapped by Ron Broadhead, our principal senior petroleum geologist at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

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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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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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Dating the Sands of Time

A new dating method, being developed at the NMBG&MR, uses our state-of-the-art geochronology laboratory, funded by NSF and NM Tech, to determine the age of detrital sanidine (tiny volcanic minerals) from sediments.

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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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The Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network
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The Aquifer Mapping Program at New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), with funding from Healy Foundation, is developing a statewide Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network for New Mexico. This voluntary Network will gather new and existing data on groundwater levels to help us understand how our state's groundwater resources are changing through time, promote increased awareness of water issues around New Mexico, and provide an important foundation for making informed water-management decisions.

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Scientists Use Ancient Ore Deposits to Predict Ground Water Quality and Paleoclimate
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Two Bureau of Geology scientists, in collaboration with scientists at the United State Geological Survey, have discovered similarities between ground water systems that formed ore deposits 10 million years ago and modern ground water in the Rio Grande Rift. They reported their work in an invited presentation at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Dr. Virgil Lueth, mineralogist/ economic geologist, and Lisa Peters, senior lab associate at the New Mexico Geochronological Research Lab, have been studying the mineral jarosite in ore deposits from Chihuahua, Mexico, to Albuquerque.

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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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Peña Blanca Hydrogeology Study
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We began working in Peña Blanca in March 2016 at the request of the NM Environment Department (NMED). The goal was to understand the local hydrogeology of Peña Blanca in order to make a recommendation for an area to place a new well. The need for a new well was highlighted by the discovery of solid waste, a hydraulic fluid tank and a diesel tank immediately adjacent to but on different property than the current municipal well.

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