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Mimbres Basin Hydrogeology

Mimbres Basin study area
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Net water-level change over the time period 1980-2020. Blue areas indicate areas of water level declines, brown areas show water level increases, and pink areas are where the regional trend is not valid, resulting in predicted water-levels above ground.
(click for a larger version)

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.

Funded by Healy Foundation, and the Aquifer Mapping Program.

If you’d like more information, please contact:

Geoff Rawling, Senior Field Geologist
Stacy Timmons, Associate Director for Hydrogeology Programs


Rawling, Geoffrey, 2021, Evaluation of Water-Level Trends Using Spatiotemporal Kriging in the Mimbres Basin, Southwest New Mexico. Open-File Report 616

Finch, S.T., McCoy, A., and Melis, E., 2008, Geologic controls on groundwater flow in the Mimbres Basin, southwestern New Mexico, in: New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook 59th Field Conference, pp. 189–198.

Hanson, R.T., McLean, J.S., and Miller, R.S., 1994, Hydrogeologic framework and preliminary simulation of ground-water flow in the Mimbres Basin, Southwestern New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4011, 118 p.

Hawley, J.W., Hibbs, B.J.; Kennedy, J.F.; Creel, B.J.; Remmenga, M.D.; Johnson, M.; Lee, M. M.; Dinterman, P., 2000, Trans-International boundary aquifers in southwestern New Mexico, Technical Completion Report prepared for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 6 and the International Boundary and Water Commission - U.S. Section, 126 p.

Kennedy, J.F.; Hawley, J.W.; and Johnson, M.,2000, The hydrogeological framework of basin-fill aquifers and associated ground-water-flow systems in southwestern New Mexico: An overview, in: New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook 51sth Field Conference, pp. 235–244.

Ruybal, C. J., Hogue, T. S., & McCray, J. E. (2019). Evaluation of groundwater levels in the Arapahoe aquifer using spatiotemporal regression kriging. Water Resources Research, 55, 2820–2837.

State of New Mexico, 2017, Southwest Regional Water Plan

Trauger, F.D., 1972, Water resources and general geology of Grant County, New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hydrologic Report 2, 211 p.

White, W.N., 1931, Preliminary report on the ground-water supply of Mimbres Valley, New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Supply Paper 637-B, p. 69-90.

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