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Open-file Report - 610
Geologic Map of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Culberson County, Texas

Steven J. Skotnicki

2020

cover

The Guadalupe Peak 7.5’ quadrangle covers the southernmost exposures of the Guadalupe Mountains, in western Texas. Elevations in the quadrangle range from 4,830 feet above sea level in the southeast corner of the map to 8,751 feet at Guadalupe Peak, the highest elevation in the State of Texas. Except for the southeast portion of the map, most of the land resides within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. U.S. Highways 62/180 cut through the very southeast edge of the Park, connecting El Paso approximately 100 miles to the west with Carlsbad, New Mexico, approximately 50 miles to the northeast. A 70-mile drive west and south along Route 137 from Carlsbad provides the only vehicle access to the high country into Upper Dog Canyon, near the northern boundary of the map.

In the southwest portion of the map, Pine Spring Canyon is the gateway to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The canyon contains the National Park Visitor Center and Pine Spring Campground, and is the trailhead for several of the Park’s extensive and well-maintained trails. U.S. Highways 62/180 reach their highest elevation at the 5,424-foot-high divide located approximately 3,000 feet directly south of the Visitor Center. This divide has been a nexus for travelers for hundreds and possibly for thousands of years, the nearby thousand-foot-high spire of El Capitan providing a landmark visible from far away.

The rocks of the Guadalupe Mountains are some of the most studied rocks on Earth and much has been written about their geologic history (see the webpage of the National Park Service for a good introduction and their Geodiversity Atlas for links to more geologic resources: https://www.nps.gov/articles/nps-geodiversity-atlas-guadalupe-mountains-national-park-texas.htm. Also, Peter Scholle created a virtual tour that provides a great introduction to the geologic history of the Guadalupe Mountains with numerous illustrations and referenced sources for further reading: /tour/federal/parks/PermianReef. The current report does not attempt to reproduce or assimilate this large body of research. Instead, this report simply adds some new observations gleaned during the recent geologic mapping of the area and relates them to a small selection of some the previous work that has been done. This study also discusses some of the challenges that remain.

The first portion of this study was carried out during 2015 and 2016, which involved detailed mapping of mostly the lower elevations in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park from McKittrick Canyon in the northeast to the even lower elevations west and southwest of Guadalupe Pass. The second portion of the field work was performed in 2019, which mostly involved detailed mapping of the higher elevations. Some areas immediately marginal to the Guadalupe Peak 7.5’ quadrangle are also discussed here, but discussion of those areas further removed (such as the faulted areas southwest of Guadalupe Pass) are differed until those areas have been more thoroughly studied.

During the field work, sustained 20-30 mph winds, often with gusts exceeding 50 mph, were a constant companion. Because of the ubiquity of sharp, spiny Agave Lechugilla on the landscape, several times, after hiking to the top of a ridge only to be met by driving winds, the author turned around and went back down, rather than risk being blown over and impaled. Wearing a hat in these conditions is not possible.

Relevant photographs are included throughout the text of this report. More photos are included at the end of the text, after the references section, to help future researchers compare changes in the landscape.

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File Name Size Last Modified
OFR-610_GuadalupeMountainNationalPark_Report.pdf 21.92 MB 02/08/2021 01:42:44 PM
OFR-610_GuadalupePeak.pdf 8.19 MB 02/08/2021 01:43:23 PM
GIS Data:
GuadalupePeak.mpk 181.40 MB 04/01/2020 01:51:12 PM
Measured Sections:
Composite Strat Sections 1.jpg 1.09 MB 09/03/2020 11:13:28 AM
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