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Gravity Survey of the Marcial Basin

(click for a larger version)

near Fort Craig, NM
August 20, 2021

This photograph shows Kyle Gallant, a student from NM Tech, taking a reading from a gravimeter during a gravity survey last month. The gravimeter is the tan, box-like object on the paver. Kyle was the primary worker in this gravity survey, which focused on the Marcial basin (rift basin near Fort Craig, between Elephant Butte Lake and Socorro). The effort is being led by Alex Rinehart and myself, and is being funded by the Brightstar Fellowship (New Mexico Bureau of Geology). The Brightstar provides funding for undergraduates to participate in research activity. It’s a great opportunity for students, and I am very grateful for a similar opportunity I had when I was an undergraduate at UC Riverside. Kyle has proved his mettle in this job and I am pleased with how he has performed. The team is very eager to see what the results of the survey can tell us about the geologic structure of the San Marcial basin.

One feature of the basin’s structure can be seen in the photograph, which was taken about 5 miles east of Fort Craig on the privately owned Armendaris Ranch. The view is to the northwest. The small cone and mesa barely sticking up above the sand sage in the upper-right of the photograph is Mesa Contadero, and behind is the Magdalena Mountains. One hypothesis we are testing is that the volcano formed along a fault zone in a structural high (accommodation zone) between the Socorro and San Marcial basins.

— Dan Koning, Sr. Field Geologist, NMBGMR