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

Geoffrey Rawling

(last revised: 11-February-2022)


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.

See ReadMe.txt for more information about this report.

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