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Bulletin 85—Stratigraphy and petroleum possibilities of Catron County, New Mexico

By R. W. Foster, 1964, 55 pp, 1 table, 11 figs., 2 plates, 1 index.

Most of Catron County is underlain by volcanics and sediments of Tertiary and Quaternary age. Outcrops of pre-Tertiary rocks are restricted to a strip, four townships wide, across the northern part of the county and to a few isolated exposures in the volcanic rocks. Data on pre-Mesozoic rocks are almost entirely restricted to a few deep oil tests drilled in the northern part of the county. These tests reveal that the lower Permian Abo Formation directly overlies the Precambrian in most of this area. Permian rocks consist of carbonates, evaporites, sandstones, and shales. They probably attain a maximum thickness of 3,000 ft in the southeastern part of the county. Projection of control points from adjacent parts of NM and Arizona suggests that approximately 2,000 ft of Paleozoic rocks older than Permian underlie the volcanics of the southern half of Catron County.

Mesozoic rocks have a maximum thickness of slightly more than 3,000 ft in the northern part of the county, but Triassic strata thin rapidly to the south and are absent in southern Catron County. Cretaceous rocks beneath the southern two-thirds of the county may attain a thickness of 2,000–3,000 ft, but thinner sections are to be expected.

The most favorable stratigraphic intervals for petroleum exploration are Cretaceous sandstones, Permian carbonates and sandstones, and, where present, Pennsylvanian carbonates. Exploration is difficult in much of the area because favorable structures are concealed by volcanic rocks, and thicknesses of volcanic intervals are unknown. Areas where minimal sections of Tertiary rocks are present are pointed out. This bulletin on Catron County is meant to be the first of such a series on the oil and gas resources of NM.

Since 1942, the production of petroleum in NM has more than tripled, oil and gas have been found in large quantities in rocks of pre-Permian are in the southeastern counties, and almost all discoveries and developments in the San Juan Basin have taken place. As a direct result of the thousands of wells drilled in the past 20 years, tremendous strides have been made in our knowledge of the stratigraphy of NM. It would be virtually impossible now to condense all the geologic data accumulated since 1942 into one publication.

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