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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:

Special Publication-15 — A History of the Geology Program at New Mexico State University: 1890 to 2015

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By: Thomas H. Giordano, 2022

The history behind the Department of Geological Sciences at New Mexico State University goes back one hundred and thirty years and is complex. This history, as told in the pages of this monograph, documents the important details behind the founding of the NMSU geology program and its growth and evolution to 2015. The program's history is conveniently divided into three administrative phases. Phase I comprises the first 55 years, during which the program's activities were managed by one or two regular academic departments of the University. In the Earth Sciences phase, the geology program was administered as a division, along with one or two other divisions in the same department. In its third phase, the geology program became a regular academic department within the College of Arts and Sciences, its current status as the Department of Geological Sciences. Two obvious legacies of NMSU's geology program are the Department of Geological Sciences and the geophysics program in the Department of Physics. However, the program's legacy is also reflected in the students who have taken its courses and the program's research output through the efforts of its faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Since the mid-1960s, the geology program has produced a vast amount of research that has led to a sophisticated understanding of the geology of southern New Mexico and adjacent areas. Finally, through a better understanding of the geology program's academic evolution, the program's alumni and current students, faculty, and staff will have a more profound appreciation of their academic experience at New Mexico State University

This publication can be downloaded for free or can be purchased as an on-demand printed book.

NMGS, 45 pages

ISBN: 1-58546-114-8

Softcover: $20.00 Buy Now more details...

Geologic road log: Cumbres and Toltec scenic railroad

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By: Shari Kelly, Peter Barkmann, Rob Benson, Jonathan Lovekin, and Lisa Dunn, 2021

This geologic road log describes the diverse geology exposed along the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. The booklet was designed for use on the annual “Geotrain” excursion offered by the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad each summer since 2011. The geologic journey begins in the San Luis Basin in the Rio Grande rift, traverses the southern San Juan volcanic field, and ends in the Chama Basin. The booklet includes a brief introduction to the regional geology of the area, a discussion of the engineering geology associated with building and maintaining the railroad, and descriptions of outcrops exposed in road cuts along the rail line.

35 pages

ISBN: 978-1-883905-50-7

Socks with Valles Caldera geologic map

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By: McGovern, 2021

Are you looking for the perfect New Mexico-themed gift to give your favorite geologist (even if that geologist is you)? If so, check out these sizzling socks, featuring a map of the Valles Caldera! The caldera formed during two volcanic super-eruptions that took place 1.6 and 1.2 million years ago and were so powerful that erupted ash is found in Kansas, Utah and Wyoming!


$26.45 Buy Now more details...
This price includes $7.50 extra shipping.

The Rio Chama: A River Guide to the Geology and Landscapes

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By: Paul W. Bauer, Matthew Zimmerer, J. Michael Timmons, Brigitte Felix, and Steve Harris, 2021

The 135-mile Rio Chama of northern New Mexico is a major tributary of the Rio Grande. From its alpine headwaters at the Continental Divide of the glaciated San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado, this hidden gem flows across the Colorado Plateau in a spectacular canyon cut into Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, in places up to 1,500 feet deep. Towering, vibrant, sandstone cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, superb camping, and a diversity of historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the boater, angler, hiker, or camper.

This book contains detailed river maps of the seven sections of the Rio Chama, plus its three resplendent reservoirs, from the Colorado headwaters to its confluence with the Rio Grande near Española. The Chama Canyon section, below El Vado Dam and through the Chama Canyon Wilderness, is one of the finest, multi-day, whitewater trips in the Southwest.

134 pages

ISBN: 978-1-883905-32-3

Guidebook-71 — Geology of the Mount Taylor area

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By: Bonnie A. Frey, Shari A. Kelley, Kate E. Zeigler, Virginia T. McLemore, Fraser Goff, and Dana S. Ulmer-Scholle, 2021

The Mt. Taylor area is 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, Mt. Taylor is a late Pliocene stratovolcano located on the Jemez Lineament, an enigmatic NE-trending alignment of late Cenozoic volcanic centers. Mt. Taylor lies along the southeast margin of the San Juan Basin bounded by the Zuni (south) and Nacimiento (east) uplifts. Mt. Taylor also has some of the richest uranium deposits in the United States.

The human history of the Mt. 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, the area was settled as part of a U.S. territory, bringing with it commerce such as the railroad and timber industries, and later the uranium boom and its lasting legacy. Additional corridors of commerce opened with Route 66, succeeded by Interstate 40. The designation of Mt. Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property recognizes the mountain's importance to Native, Spanish and U.S. cultures.

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.

There are two versions of this guidebook available, the complete guidebook (310 pages), and a version with just the road logs that is spiral bound (94 pages).

NMGS, 310 pages

ISBN: 1-58546-112-1

Softcover: $65.00 Buy Now more details...

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

Open-file Report-616 — Evaluation of water-level trends using spatiotemporal kriging in the Mimbres Basin, southwest New Mexico

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By: Geoffrey Rawling, 2021

Water-level measurements in the Mimbres Basin made in early 2020 were combined with data extending back to 1980 to characterize water level trends in the region. The geostatistical method of spatiotemporal kriging was used to create water-level maps every five years from 1980 until 2020. Changes in water-levels over these five-year intervals were calculated. Compared to traditional spatial kriging, the spatiotemporal approach offers improved precision, more realistic maps of water levels and water-level changes, fewer artifacts due to changing well networks over time, and overall less uncertainty in predictions.

Several notable patterns since 1980 are revealed in the sequential maps. From Deming to Columbus, water levels have declined up to 75 feet. Water-level declines and expansion of cones of depression appear to have slowed south of Deming and increased around Columbus in the past ten years. Water levels west of Red Mountain, east of the Florida Mountains, and northeast of Columbus have risen as much as 32 feet, presumably as a result of decline in pumping for irrigation in these areas that has resulted in flattening of cones of depression. The vicinity of Whitewater and Faywood shows net water-level rises over the 40 year period, but declines have occurred in the past ten years. Water levels have varied considerably along the reach of the Mimbres River south of Faywood, where most of the river’s flow infiltrates.

The spatiotemporal kriging approach is more challenging than other interpolation methods traditionally used in hydrogeology. However, the cost in funds and staff-hours of field studies to gather water-level data has always been high and continues to rise. Therefore it is prudent to analyze the data collected at such great expense with methods that will extract the most useful information. The present work builds on other recent studies and demonstrates that spatiotemporal kriging of water-level data is superior to spatial kriging in this regard.

This report was revised in February 2022 to correct minor typographical errors and to add location maps on figures 15 and 21. Appendices 1-3 are unchanged, but are now included with the body of the report. The interpretations of this work remain the same.

57 pages

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

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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-614 — A Three-Dimensional Hydrogeologic Model from the Pecos Slope to the Southern High Plains, Southeastern New Mexico

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By: Colin Cikoski, Marissa Fichera, Ethan Mamer, and Laila Sturgis, 2020

Understanding and managing groundwater resources has become more important than ever, especially in New Mexico, which relies on groundwater more than any other state in the southwest. Accurate information on the depth to groundwater, water quality, and thickness of the state’s aquifers is needed for a variety of reasons, including: improving well drilling success, informing regional water planning, and reducing oil and gas well interference with fresh water zones. Currently, this type of data is found in regional maps, or buried in databases, and extrapolating the data to determine site specific conditions can be tedious and, oftentimes, inaccurate. The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is investigating the feasibility of using the robust suite of spatial analysis tools available in ArcGIS to create publicly available, three dimensional maps of the major aquifers in the state to fill this data gap. The southeastern portion of New Mexico, specifically the Pecos Slope region of the Sacramento Mountains and the lower Pecos River valley, was selected for this initial study of 3-D mapping due to its wealth of geologic data, including thousands of well logs from oil and gas exploration. The major aquifers in this region are divided up as the Pecos Valley Alluvium, the Southern High Plains Aquifer System, and the Permian Aquifer System. The water resources in this area are in high demand and under intense active management: groundwater is relied upon to support large agricultural and dairy/cattle industries, as well as a booming oil and gas industry; surface water use is strictly limited by the terms of the Pecos River Compact, further highlighting the need for this project.

This collection includes 3 parts. First, work by Colin Cikoski, provides an in-depth look at the feasibility of using ArcGIS to build a digital, three-dimensional hydrogeologic model. There are several 3D geologic modeling software packages, ultimately, however, ArcGIS was selected for this study due to its widespread use in several fields, the ability to utilize the final data with free or open source software, and the ease of importing the final data files into other modeling software. In addition to focusing on a model system that was widely available, the project was designed to create a model that would minimize modeler bias and maximize objective utilization of a wide variety of input data. The geologic surfaces were created through an iterative process of developing regional surfaces, comparing that surface to raw control points to calculate local deviance models, then incorporating the deviance model into the next iteration of the surface. Uncertainty was quantified through each of the stages of the model building and combined to create uncertainty maps. The results of Cikoski’s analysis show that the modeling method is unbiased and faithfully captures complex large and medium scale geologic structures. The model is reflective of the current understanding of the geology of the area and had reduced accuracy with increased distance from control points.

The second part of the collection, by Marissa Fichera and Ethan Mamer, is the application of the completed geologic model to calculate aquifer extents and volumes. Defining freshwater aquifer boundaries is more complicated than looking at the geologic contacts alone, as hydraulic properties and water quality often vary spatially within the same formation. To constrain these variables, water quality and water level information from the USGS, the New Mexico Office of State Engineer, and the Texas Water Development Board were compiled into a relational database and plotted in 3-dimensions. Water quality was broken into two zones, fresh to low-salinity brackish (below 3,000 mg/L TDS) and brackish (above 3,000 mg/L TDS). Water level surfaces were contoured from control points measured in wells between 2010 and 2019. After creating these water quality and water level zones within the geologic model, relevant hydraulic properties were applied to estimate current extractable volumes. The result of this analysis estimate the Pecos Valley Alluvial Aquifer volume of 4–6 Million Acre-Feet (Maf), Southern High Plains Aquifer System volume of 20–50 Maf, and Permian Aquifer System volume of 90–260 Maf.

The third part of this collection is an ArcGIS map package containing digital hydrogeologic model data, including raster surfaces, and contours of the subsurface elevations of geologic units and relevant hydrologic surfaces. Basal surfaces of the following geologic units are included in the map package: the Pecos Valley Alluvium, the Ogallala Formation, Lower Cretaceous strata, upper and lower Dockum Groups, upper and lower Ochoan strata, the Artesia Group, the San Andres Formation, and the Yeso Formation. Aquifer extents, water table elevation and saturated thickness contour maps, and estimated basal aquifer extents are also included.

While great care was taken to create an accurate and user friendly set of maps and model layers, this data should still be used with caution. The Pecos Slope model has a horizontal resolution of no more than 1km and is intended primarily for visualization and communication, and for regional or preliminary studies. Users of this model should be aware of the levels of uncertainty in each surface and conduct site specific studies, especially in structurally complex areas, as needed.

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

Also available as a free download.

Open-file Report-612 — Hydrogeology and Geochemistry of the Animas River Alluvial Aquifer, San Juan County, New Mexico: Assessing Groundwater Recharge, Flow Paths, and Solute Sources

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By: B. Talon Newton and Ethan Mamer, 2020

This report describes and discusses data and results for a geochemical study of groundwater in the Animas River Valley in New Mexico, which was conducted by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR). This study is a continuation of previous work done by NMBGMR (Newton et al., 2017). After the Gold King Mine (GKM) released metal and sludge-laden water into Cement Creek and the Animas River on August 5, 2015, the NMBGMR, along with other federal and state agencies and tribes, responded with a collaborative research effort to assess potential environmental and economic impacts to New Mexico communities along the Animas River. Collaborative agencies included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, Navajo Nation EPA, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Newton et al., (2017) using groundwater level and water chemistry data collected between January 2016 and June 2017, characterized the local hydrogeology and looked for evidence of potential impacts from the GKM spill on local groundwater quality. While Newton et al., (2017) found no evidence of groundwater contamination that was directly associated with the GKM spill, a subsequent study phase was recommended to continue groundwater quality monitoring in the Animas River valley alluvial aquifer and to answer important questions about geochemical processes with implications for potential impacts to groundwater quality by the GKM spill and mitigation of possible future mine waste spills. The dynamic groundwater/surface water interactions in the Animas River valley in New Mexico and potential changes to groundwater quality are important to the communities in the region that face potential contamination of domestic wells from historic mining sources and the GKM spill.

67 pages

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

Also available as a free download.

Open-file Report-613 — La Cienega Groundwater Level Monitoring, Santa Fe County, New Mexico: 2020 Summary of Findings

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By: Ethan Mamer, 2020

Beginning in 2003, the New Mexico Bureau of Geology began a hydrogeological investigation of the Española Basin, with a special focus on the wetlands at La Cienega, Santa Fe County, New Mexico to better understand the inputs that support them (Johnson, 2009). The studies focused on linking the geology of the region and the groundwater flow to help understand the potential influences on the wetlands. The research showed that the primary aquifer that supports the wetlands in La Cienega is the Ancha Formation, which is overlying and connected to the Tesuque Formation. The eroded upper surface of the Tesuque Formation has a network of paleo-valleys that were incised by ancestral rivers. The Ancha Formation aquifer fills these valleys with coarse sediments that are highly transmissive. The wetlands are positioned on the southwestern edge of the Española Basin where the Tesuque and Ancha aquifers thin and pinch-out over older, low-permeability rock units. The thinning of the aquifer forces groundwater to the surface, where it discharges as springs and seeps that support the wetlands. Findings from this research showed that the groundwater feeding the wetlands is highly susceptible to regional influences such as pumping, drought, and land use changes. Both the Tesuque and the Ancha are productive aquifers that have been a source of water for the City of Santa Fe and several other large consumers. The report, using data collected from 2004 to 2013, found water levels in many wells in the primary aquifer around La Cienega had steadily declined since the 1970s (Johnson et al., 2016).

This report is a brief summary of the groundwater level monitoring activities in La Cienega, and updates regarding the 2020 measurements.

17 pages, Appendix

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

Also available as a free download.

Open-file Report-615 — White Paper: A Summary of the Hydrogeology of the San Agustin Plains, New Mexico

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By: Alex Rinehart, Daniel J Koning, and Stacy Timmons, 2020

Over the last several years, the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), Aquifer Mapping Program, has been working on numerous research aspects of the geology and hydrology of the San Agustin Plains, New Mexico. This White Paper, Open-File Report 615, provides a detailed overview and summary of the results from this work, and will be followed by a comprehensive, peer-reviewed report on these results, with data, in the coming months. Major findings include:

  • The San Agustin Plains consists of two distinct bedrock-floored, sediment-filled basins termed the East and West basins. Within each basin, groundwater flow is constrained by the underlying geologic structure. Of particular importance are areas where bedrock has been down-dropped along faults to form four distinct grabens: Horse Spring graben, North graben, C-N graben and White Lake graben.
  • The surrounding mountains are made of layered volcanic rocks and sedimentary rocks made of eroded material from volcanoes. The type of rock controls how water moves through the mountain blocks. Some of the volcanic layers are highly fractured and transmit water more easily. Other volcanic layers and the majority of the sedimentary rocks are low permeability, thus not allowing water to move readily through the rock.
  • The bedrock basin of the San Agustin Plains has been progressively filled with sediment over the past 25 million years. The sediment is mainly composed of sand and mud (silt-clay), with gravelly sand found near hills and mountains. The type of sediment deposited is a function of the paleo-environments of deposition. Piedmont deposits (including alluvial fans), near the edges of the basin, are composed of the coarsest sediment, whereas basin floor deposits (or alluvial flat) contain finer sediment, and sediment found in paleo-playa lake areas, typically near the middle of the basin floor, is the finest.
  • Because the structural grabens have been continuously filling with sediment containing notable but variable proportions of mud, the San Agustin Plains is highly susceptible to groundwater-withdrawal-driven subsidence.
  • Groundwater levels are nearly flat across most of the San Agustin Plains. The groundwater flow direction is generally west from the C-N graben through the West basin. At the southwestern end of the West basin, flow direction turns sharply south and is inferred to flow toward the Gila River watershed.
  • Groundwater levels have been slowly declining (less than 2 in/year) throughout the central part of the San Agustin Plains over the last 30 years. This effect is best documented with the NMBGMR measurements from 2007 to 2017.
  • The groundwater in the tributary valleys at the margins of the San Agustin Plains, and within the Plains, has low concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) in general, including low concentrations of arsenic and uranium (which are common naturally occurring water contaminants in New Mexico). Poorer water quality was found in some wells completed in tight bedrock and in wells under the playas in the western end of the basin.
  • Groundwater recharge enters the basin at depth through fractured volcanic rocks called tuffs, and through shallow alluvial aquifers in tributary valleys at the margins of the basin.
  • Recharge rate, defined as the ratio of water that enters the aquifer to amount of precipitation, is low (0.3 in/yr compared to 14.6 in/yr of precipitation), according to chloride mass-balance calculations. Recharge mainly originates in the mountain blocks and tributary valleys at the margins of the Plains.
  • Mountain block recharge into the aquifers hosted in volcanic rocks is likely structurally controlled and likely occurs less than 5 miles from the margin of the basin. Focused recharge occurs along the length of the tributary valleys during flow events; focused recharge is a mixture of recent waters and older waters.
  • Timescales for recharge are long. From the time that rain falls, and is focused through tributary valleys, it takes, on average, between 1,000 years and 4,000 years for that water to reach the aquifer. Water that percolates through the mountain-block fractured volcanic rocks (tuff) takes even longer to reach the aquifer, taking between 9,000 and 14,000 years. The majority of groundwater shows ages consistent with mountain block recharge, indicating that
    • Mountain block recharge is likely greater than focused recharge through tributary valleys.
    • It has taken 10,000 years for water to travel the five to ten miles from the mountain block into the basin aquifer.
  • The current amount of water use slightly exceeds the recharge rate of the basin, based on the following points:
    • The long time needed for water to move through the basin, as indicated by low water table gradients.
    • The relatively low flow rates of recharge, as indicated by long travel times over short distances.
    • The small proportion of water that become groundwater in the recharge area.
    • The slow lowering of the water table.

23 pages

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

Also available as a free download.

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

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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

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

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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