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Facilities: New Mexico Subsurface Library

Our publicly available facilities contain more than 20,000 boxes of New Mexico core (oil & gas core and mining core), cuttings from more than 16,000 wells in New Mexico , logs from 50,000 New Mexico wells, maps of frontier and the lesser productive counties showing locations of oil & gas exploratory wells, and other useful subsurface geologic data. These libraries are an important source of geologic and engineering information regarding exploration for, and development of, oil and natural gas, water, coal, uranium, carbon dioxide, and helium in New Mexico. The Subsurface Library is used extensively by industry, students, state and federal agencies, the general public and by our geologists. Several hundred visitors and telephone inquiries are received each year. A brief description of our collections and their uses can be found here in this Earth Matters article.


cuttings storage area
Our new cuttings facility has an extensive storage area.

Our cuttings are housed in a new steel building that was erected in 2015 as part of the construction effort that produced our new Bureau of Geology building. The cuttings library houses almost 51,000 boxes of drill cuttings from more than 16,600 drill holes. These represent 150 million ft (28,400 miles) of drill hole, which if set out end to end would wrap around the earth 1.14 times. Oil & gas, minerals exploration, and water well drill holes are represented. Our new facility gives us room to expnad our collections. The library contains an examination room, microscopes, a black-light UV box, a sample processing area and other equipment essential for cuttings examination and analysis. Almost all of the cuttings come from New Mexico wells although a small number come from bordering areas of adjacent states. The latter are helpful because geology does not stop at state lines.


core ecam tables
Core examination tables

We have core available for study of representative rock formations in different parts of New Mexico. Core is housed in six warehouses, with a processing area, and tables for examining core. Microscopes are available for visitors' use.

We allow samples of cores to be taken provided that at least one-half of the core remains for future examination and that copies of any analytical reports be shared with us. All sampling must be approved beforehand. In addition to the cores, location information, geophysical logs, drillers' logs, and other material are available for many holes.

More than 4,000 cores donated by over 100 different companies and other organizations are ready for examination. More than 540,000 ft (100 miles!) of drill core are present in our collection. The age of units in these cores ranges from Precambrian to Holocene. Archived core is representative of oil, gas, coal, mineral, geothermal and water exploration wells in New Mexico.