skip all navigation
skip banner links
skip primary navigation

Recent Publications

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources has published geoscience research and information since its inception in 1927. Our publishing program serves both the professional geologic community and the general public. Many of our publications are now offered in electronic format, and most of those are available for free download. However, many of our older publications and selected newer publications are available in print.

We also carry publications from the New Mexico Geological Society (NMGS), United States Geological Survey (USGS), as well as other publishers.

Below is a selection of the more recent publications we have available:

Open-file Report-611 — Geology of the Eastern Plains of San Agustin and Upper Alamosa Creek

cover image

By: Daniel J. Koning and Alex Rinehart, 2021

This report gives a detailed treatment of the geology of the eastern Plains of San Agustin and the upper (northern) reaches of Alamosa Creek (aka Alamosa basin). We synthesize previous studies of geology and provide new detail on basin fill stratigraphy and sedimentology. This report is a complement to a hydrogeologic study (due to be released 2021; summarized in OFR-615) regarding groundwater movement, age, and storage under the Plains of San Agustin and the upper Alamosa Creek watershed.

The Plains of San Agustin is a 55 mi long, 10–20 mile wide geographic feature located about 120–150 miles southwest of Albuquerque. It is comprised of a series of hydraulically closed basins that collectively form a northeast-southwest topographic depression. A set of low hills south of Datil divide the topographic depression into the West and East San Agustin basins. This report focuses on the East San Agustin basin, which hosts the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope observatory. It is also where the Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC, has proposed a contentious, large-scale groundwater extraction and artificial recharge project. Three grabens have been identified in the East San Agustin basin, where the Earth’s crust has subsided along fault lines and the sedimentary basin fill is relatively thick. The Augustin Plains Ranch project is located in the north-south trending North graben, which has a bedrock floor and overlying strata that are tilted westwards towards faults at the base of the eastern Datil Mountains. Basin fill thickens westwards towards these faults, where it is at least 3,500 ft thick.

The upper reaches of Alamosa Creek flows 15 miles south in a ~9 mi wide, north-south trending topographic low that we call the upper Alamosa basin. This basin coincides with the northern Winston graben. This geologic structure is tilted westwards towards faults at the eastern foot of the Black Range. Basin fill thus thickens westward, as it does for the North graben, and is estimated to be as thick as 4,600 ft.

The geology of the study area has four main components: older sedimentary bedrock, volcanic bedrock, basin fill, and valley-fill alluvium The bedrock consists of volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of the Mogollon-Datil volcanic field that overlie 750–1,900 ft of sandstones and mudstones of the Eocene-age Baca Formation. The lower Spears Group, composed mainly of tuffaceous debris flows and mud flows, comprises the lower 1,500–2,000 ft of the Mogollon-Datil field volcanic package and is interpreted to be an aquitard. Above the lower Spears Group lies 1,300–5,900 ft-thick sequence of interbedded ash-flow tuffs (ignimbrites), lava flows, volcaniclastic sediment (assigned to the middle-upper Spears Group) and minor tongues of non-volcanic, windblown sand (eolianites). The volcaniclastic sediments of the middle to upper Spears Group probably are poor aquifers. Eolianites are inferred to have both intergranular and fracture flow, and likely have higher permeability than the volcaniclastic sediments.
In addition, fracture networks may be sufficiently open and connected in the lava flows and tuffs, particularly the regionally extensive and thick ignimbrites, to allow appreciable groundwater movement.

Basin fill strata of the Santa Fe Group can be subdivided into the following facies: proximal to medial piedmont, distal piedmont, basin floor (or alluvial flat), and playa. In the southern part of the North graben, we recognize piedmont versus basin floor facies using geophysical-well-log and cuttings criteria from three wells with detailed wireline logs and/or cuttings records. Here, we interpret a western piedmont facies interfingering eastward with a finer-grained basin floor facies, which in turn interfingers eastward with an eastern piedmont facies. Two to three, “layer-cake” stratigraphic intervals can be locally recognized using inferred disconformities in wireline data or abrupt lithologic changes, but mapping their lateral extent away from wells awaits further study.

Overall, the texture of the basin fill in the southern North graben, the location of the proposed well field by Augustin Plains Ranch, is sand and clayey-silty sand that is capped by a 300–350 ft-thick, upper gravel-bearing interval with a notably high proportion of clay. This upper gravel-bearing interval experienced a dramatic eastward progradation in the Pleistocene that could be related to a slow down of faulting or paleoclimatic changes. Analyses of sonic and density-porosity well-log data from the 3,500 ft-deep SA-221 well indicates a general range in sand porosity of 5–25%, decreasing with depth. The notable clay content of subsurface sediment here—and also inferred for the northern part of the North graben and most of the C-N embayment—makes these areas susceptible to groundwater-related subsidence if there is large-scale pumping. In addition, the high clay content in the coarse, uppermost western piedmont unit of the southern North graben may impede infiltration from the surface to the water table. In the North graben, piedmont deposits of the lower part of the upper Santa Fe Group appear to have the highest proportion of high-porosity sands.

69 pages, 1 Plate, 7 Appendices

CD or DVD-ROM format CD or DVD-ROM format

Also available as a free download.

The Geology of Southern NM Parks, Monuments, and Public Lands

cover image

By: Peter A. Scholle, Dana S. Ulmer-Scholle, Steven M. Cather, Shari A. Kelley, and [eds.], 2020

Southern New Mexico has a wonderful combination of spectacular scenery and a sparse population. The state’s diverse and interesting geology is reflected in its numerous National and State parks and monuments (including Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands) as well as other publicly accessible lands, which range in size from the multi-million acre Gila wilderness to small roadside turnoffs and picnic areas. This book, crafted by geoscientists but written for the interested public, provides an understanding of the exposed rock units that record more than 1.7 billion years of geologic and biologic changes in this region. With nearly 400 full-color photographs, geologic maps, and illustrations, this book illuminates not just the rocks and fossils of southern New Mexico, but also archaeological/historical sites as well as the water, mineral, and energy resources of the region.

Free sample chapter — White Sands

404 pages

ISBN: 978-1-883905-48-4

Open-file Report-607 — Sunshine Valley Hydrogeology Study

cover image

By: Geoffrey Rawling and Shari Kelley, 2020

The regional hydrologic importance of the Sunshine Valley of northern Taos County, New Mexico, is belied by its remote location and sparse population. This is due to the large increase in flow of the Rio Grande in the reach adjacent to Sunshine Valley, and the transfer of 1,752 acre-feet per year of water rights downstream from the valley as part of the Aamodt Settlement Agreement. There has been no detailed hydrologic investigation of the region since the 1950s. This study integrates new physical and chemical hydrologic data, field geophysical investigations, and previous work and historical data to elucidate the hydrologic regime in the valley and document changes to the groundwater system since the 1950s. A hydrologic conceptual model and water budget for the aquifer system were prepared.

68 pages

CD or DVD-ROM format CD or DVD-ROM format

Also available as a free download.

Special Publication-14 — The Geology of the Mount Taylor Area

cover image

By: Bonnie A Frey, Shari E. Kelley, Kate E. Zeigler, Virginia T. McLemore, Fraser Goff, and Dana S. Ulmer-Scholle, 2020

The Mount Taylor area occupies a crossroad where geologic history, human history, and societal impacts intersect. Situated on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau and flanking the transition zone to the Rio Grande rift, Mount Taylor is a late Pliocene stratovolcano located on the Jemez Lineament, an enigmatic NE-trending alignment of late Cenozoic volcanic centers. Mount Taylor lies along the southeast margin of the San Juan Basin bounded by the Zuni (south) and Nacimiento (east) uplifts. Mount Taylor also has some of the richest uranium deposits in the United States.

The human history of the Mount Taylor region is no less compelling. Indigenous communities lived here for thousands of years despite Spanish conquest and the establishment of land grants. In the 1800s, settlement of this U.S. territory came, as did the railroad and timber industries, and later the uranium boom and its lasting legacy. Corridors of commerce opened with Route 66, succeeded by Interstate 40. The designation of Mount Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property recognizes the mountain's importance to Native, Spanish and U.S. cultures.

The papers in this online volume, NMGS Special Publication 14, were written for the 2020 NMGS fall field conference guidebook. The field conference was postponed to 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The papers in this volume cover a spectrum of topics, ranging from geologic studies and mining history to the effects of mining on the population and the environment today.

Download this book as a free PDF from the NMGS website.

NMGS, 191 pages

ISBN: 978-1-58546-012-0

CD or DVD-ROM format CD or DVD-ROM format
This book contains papers from what was to be the 2020 NMGS Fall Field Conference Guidebook.

Individual papers from this guidebook are available as free downloads from the NMGS site.

NM Bureau of Geology Mineral Museum Gray Adjustable Souvenir Hat

cover image

By: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, 2019

Look great and support the New Mexico Bureau of Geology's Mineral Museum with this fun, stylish hat! Order yours today! *FREE SHIPPING*-LIMITED TIME ONLY! Cart will indicate shipping but you will not be charged!

Adjustable gray cap with purple embroidered front and back lettering and image.

Geologic Map-80 — Geologic Map of Mount Taylor Volcano Area, New Mexico

cover image

By: Fraser Goff, Shari A. Kelley, Cathy J. Goff, David J. McCraw, G. Robert Osburn, John R. Lawrence, Paul G. Drakos, and Steven J. Skotnicki, 2019

The Geologic Map of the Mount Taylor Volcano Area, New Mexico is a 1:36,000 compilation of six recent NMBGMR 1:24,000 geologic quadrangles that encompass this extinct composite stratovolcano. Mount Taylor is New Mexico’s second-largest volcano after the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. This timely map and accompanying report, resulting from over a decade of thorough work, synthesizes the current geologic understanding of such an important landscape feature of the state.

For such a complex volcanic landform, the report provides an exhaustive description of the volcano area in an easy-to-read format. In addition to providing a detailed description of each of the map’s 339 units and dikes, it documents the volcano’s history and history of research, its geochemical and petrographic composition, the phases of its construction ranging from the initial to the terminal eruptions, 3.72–1.26 million years ago, and its subsequent erosion, resulting in the summit Amphitheater and its extensive apron of debris. It describes the surrounding volcanic centers, the structure of the area, and the extensive dikes and maars. After touching on the water resources, hydrothermal alteration and mineralization, and geothermal potential, the report concludes with a conceptual model of volcano evolution.

Available folded or rolled on field-durable media. There is also a puzzle version of this geologic map.

66 pages

ISBN: 978-1-883905-44-6

One 62" x 44" folded sheet + 66 page booklet

Guidebook-70 — Geology of the Raton-Clayton Area

cover image

By: Frank Ramos, Matthew J. Zimmerer, Kate Zeigler, and Dana Ulmer-Scholle, 2019

The Raton-Clayton area is known for its intertwined geologic, biologic, and human histories. Over thirty years have passed since the NMGS Fall Field Conference was last held in northeastern NM. Recently, numerous workers have focused on Mesozoic stratigraphy, Laramide tectonics, late Quaternary volcanism, landscape evolution, groundwater characterization, and induced seismicity. The field conference will highlight aspects of the current and ongoing research. The area hosts spectacular and diverse geology, often overlooked by travellers to this part of the state. We will examine the geologic, biological, and human histories of the mesas, volcanic peaks, and numerous valleys that riddle the landscape of the hi-lo country.

NMGS, 168 pages

ISBN: 1-58546-110-5

Softcover: $65.00 Buy Now more details...

Individual papers from this guidebook are available as free downloads from the NMGS site.

Memoir-50 — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Boxed Set

cover image

By: see individual volumes, 2017

This boxed set of six volumes provides the most comprehensive and extensive review of New Mexico’s energy and mineral resources to-date. Each volume focuses on the geologic nature of the resource, the history of the resource development in New Mexico, and their importance to the world and New Mexico’s economy. Written by New Mexico’s own experts in the fields, this set covers energy resources of petroleum, natural gas, coal, uranium, and geothermal, along with the resources of metals and industrial minerals and rocks.

This memoir is published jointly by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources and the New Mexico Geological Society.

Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico, NMBGMR, Memoir 50 and NMGS Special Publication 13 (six-volume boxed set)

A: Petroleum GeologyRonald F. Broadhead

B: Coal Resources — Gretchen K. Hoffman

C: Uranium ResourcesVirginia T. McLemore and William L. Chenoweth

D: Metallic Mineral DepositsVirginia T. McLemore and Virgil W. Lueth

E: Industrial Minerals and Rocks — Virginia T. McLemore and George S. Austin

F: Overview of the Valles Caldera (Baca) Geothermal SystemFraser Goff and Cathy J. Goff

564 pages

ISBN: 978-1-883905-43-9

Boxed set, Volumes A-F

Memoir-50A — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Petroleum Geology

cover image

By: Ronald F. Broadhead, 2017

With oil and natural gas production contributing a significant portion of New Mexico’s economy, this volume discusses the most important geologic formations and regions for these resources. The chapter includes oil and gas resources of the Permian Basin and San Juan Basin, coalbed methane production in the Raton Basin, and other frontier basins with potential petroleum resources. Additional discussion includes carbon dioxide production from the Bravo Dome and helium production in central New Mexico.

104 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–37–8

Memoir-50B — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Coal Resources

cover image

By: Gretchen K. Hoffman, 2017

New Mexico’s coal resources, predominantly located in the San Juan and Raton Basins, have affected the state’s growth and development, and have been significant economic drivers. As alternative energy resources are considered nationally, New Mexico still generates a significant amount of power using its coal resources. This volume provides a geologic review of New Mexico’s coal-bearing regions and formations, as well as discussing important coalbed methane reserves.

80 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–38–5

Memoir-50C — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Uranium Resources

cover image

By: Virginia T. McLemore and William L. Chenoweth, 2017

Some of the world’s greatest uranium reserves, used for power generation and in a variety of industrial applications, are found in the state of New Mexico. This volume provides an extensive review of the geology of these uranium resources, covering where they are found, predominantly in the Grants district in the Morrison Formation. Additional review of the uranium potential in minor deposits is also included.

80 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–39–2

Memoir-50D — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Metallic Mineral Deposits

cover image

By: Virginia T. McLemore and Virgil W. Lueth, 2017

Metallic mineral deposits have been produced in New Mexico since prehistoric times and occur in more than 230 different mining districts in the state. This volume describes the formation of these metallic minerals in distinct time periods of New Mexico’s rich geologic history. Readers will find detailed information about the most economic and critical types of metals produced in the state, as well as those which may become important in the future.

92 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–40–8

Memoir-50E — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Industrial Minerals and Rocks

cover image

By: Virginia T. McLemore and George S. Austin, 2017

One of New Mexico’s riches are the abundant industrial minerals and rocks, which are used to make a variety of products including ceramics, plastics, paper, and aggregate for roads. This volume reviews the locations of many geologic occurrences of important industrial rocks and minerals such as potash, perlite, zeolite, travertine, scoria, and magnetite. Readers will also find discussion of recently explored districts, with new mining interests in minerals such as beryllium, titanium and rare earth elements.

128 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–41–5

Memoir-50F — Energy and Mineral Resources of New Mexico: Overview of the Valles Caldera (Baca) Geothermal System

cover image

By: Fraser Goff and Cathy J. Goff, 2017

In New Mexico, the most carefully studied and best understood geothermal system is found at the Valles caldera. This massive and unique Quaternary volcanic complex contains a relatively small geothermal system, which has had decades of exploration and attempts at development. From the history of discovery and research of this geothermal system to the geochemistry and geologically sourced heat, this volume covers the important discoveries and details of the Valles caldera geothermal system.

80 pages

ISBN: 978–1–883905–42–2