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New Mexico Geological Society
Fall Field Conference Guidebook - 53
Geology of White Sands


Virgil Lueth, Katherine A. Giles, Spencer G. Lucas, Barry S. Kues, Robert G. Myers, and Dana Ulmer-Scholle, eds, 2002, 362 pages.

In 1942 the ranchers and miners living on the roughly 3200 square mile area that was destined to become White Sands Missile Range, leased their land to the United States Government in order to establish the Alamogordo Bombing Range. On July 9, 1945 Whites Sands Missile Range (WSMR)) was formally established and on July 16 the first atomic bomb was tested at the Trinity Site on the north end of the range. The events of that day would change the course of history for this area in New Mexico and for the entire World. The field trip and guidebook cover an extremely wide range of geologic topics. These topics include a visit to the Proterozoic basement, an overview of nearly the entire Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic stratigraphy, Ancestral Rocky Mountains, Laramide and Rio Grande rift tectonics, coal and mineral deposits, eolian and soil processes of White Sands, and volcanic processes of the anomalously long Carrizozo lava flow. WSMR not only has an incredibly rich geologic history, but the human history of the area has served as the inspiration for many novels, fodder for folklore, and instigation for treasure hunts. In the course of our geologically oriented traverse of the area, we will be fortunate to visit historic sites ranging from the Native Americans who left the petroglyphs that we'll view at Three Rivers, to the testing of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site that brought us into the Atomic Age. Our journey across the Tularosa Basin and through Rhodes Canyon and Mockingbird Gap will take us past many structures abandoned by the ranching and milling communities of the past and will trace the rare passages through the San Andres Mountains that were used by the Spanish and early settlers in the region.

Papers from this guidebook are available for download from the NMGS website.

ISBN: 9781585460851

Softcover: $5.00 Buy Now

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

Table of Contents available for download (376 kB PDF requires Acrobat 7.0 or later)