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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 showing work by both the NM Bureau of Geology and the USGS (cross hatched).
(click for a larger version)
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 undertaken the important task of mapping the major groundwater aquifers of our state in three dimensions. These ArcGIS models rely on detailed interpretations of the geologic layering and faulting in the subsurface, typically at 1km cell sizes, supplemented with data on depth to water and water quality to determine aquifer surfaces. This multi-year effort is funded primarily by the Healy Foundation and the Aquifer Mapping Program at the Bureau, with regional models supported by the NM Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Working region-by-region, focusing on the accessible and actively used groundwater resources, our models are built primarily from existing data sources such as:

  1. the state’s geologic maps
  2. well records from 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 and the Healy Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network
  4. water quality from the Water Quality Portal
  5. numerous regional reports and maps of aquifers

Free, accessible, digital aquifer maps can fulfill numerous needs at the local, state and federal levels. Some examples of these benefits include:

  • well owners and communities will have more information about groundwater in their local area
  • water planning for both regional and state water plans will be more informed
  • decision-makers can more easily conceptualize how groundwater use or surface water applications may affect their surrounding aquifer
  • groundwater flow and transport models will have accessible, region-wide datasets

Reports and associated model files for our completed work are available below.

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


    1. Fichera, Marissa M., Netwon B.T., Morton, C., Sturgis, L., Baca, A., Doherty, A., 2024. Three-Dimensional Framework of Aquifer Units in the Delaware Basin of Southeastern New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open-File Report, v. 0623.
    2. Cikoski, Colin; Fichera, M.; Mamer, E.; Sturgis, L., 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
    3. Newton, B. Talon; Cikoski, C; Allen, B., 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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