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Development of 3D Aquifer Maps

3D geologic model of the Pecos Slope in southeast NM.
(click for a larger version)
3D Model Study Areas
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3D cross cross section of geologic units (above) and hydrogeologic units (below) in the Estancia basin.
(click for a larger version)

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources has begun the important task of mapping the major groundwater aquifers of our state in three dimensions. This multi-year effort is funded primarily by the Healy Foundation and the Aquifer Mapping Program at the Bureau, but region specific funding has also been provided by the NM EMNRD. These 3D aquifer maps will focus on the accessible (<1000 ft), actively used groundwater resources, and will utilize existing data to develop the regional maps. These maps are created in ArcGIS software and the completed model is published on our web site for public use.

In order to develop functional aquifer maps, our approach incorporates multiple datasets including:

  1. the state’s geology
  2. well records in the Office of the State Engineer’s Water Rights Reporting System and the New Mexico Oil Conservation Well Database
  3. water level and well data from the U.S. Geological Survey
  4. numerous reports and maps of aquifers
  5. the Healy Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network

Aquifer maps can fulfill numerous needs at the local, state and federal levels. Some examples of benefits are:

  • On a local scale, well owners and communities would have a resource to review for more information about groundwater in their local area, and begin to conceptualize how their groundwater use or surface water applications may affect their surrounding aquifer.
  • This effort can help support regional water planning needs for the state, and state water plan.
  • The Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) Statewide Water Assessment can benefit from having more detailed groundwater boundaries and inputs for their water budget model.
  • Determination of the remaining quantities of groundwater available in any region must begin with this type of mapping.
  • These maps may be useful in evaluation or development of groundwater models
  • Undoubtedly, these maps can be useful in public education toward water conservation.

This work will also highlight regions where data are lacking, and highlight future research needs. Reports and associated model files for our completed work are available below.

Funded by Healy Foundation, NM EMNRD, and the Aquifer Mapping Program.

If you’d like more information, please contact:
Laila Sturgis, Aquifer Mapping Program Manager,, (575) 835 5327


    1. Cikoski, Colin; Fichera, Marissa; Mamer, Ethan; Sturgis, Laila, 2020, A Three-Dimensional Hydrogeologic Model from the Pecos Slope to the Southern High Plains, Southeastern New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology Mineral Resources, Open-file Report, v. 0614
    2. Newton, B. Talon; Cikoski, Colin; Allen, Bruce, 2020. Hydrogeologic Framework of the Estancia Basin, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open-File Report, v. 609.

    Interactive Story Maps:

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