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Hydrologic Assessment of the Salt Basin Region in New Mexico and Texas

Extent of the Salt Basin in SE New Mexico and West Texas
(click for a larger version)

Study Plan Summary: October 2019

The NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is working with faculty and students at New Mexico Tech, as well as researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, on a hydrogeologic assessment of the Salt Basin region. Our research project will evaluate the water availability by 1) filling data gaps, where there is currently little or no information about the groundwater system; 2) estimating the overall balance of water in the region including groundwater recharge, storage, evaporation and pumping; 3) updating the current hydrologic model and hydrogeologic framework; and 4) running simulations in the revised model. These efforts will help assess the ability of the region to sustain current groundwater withdrawals in the Salt Basin with implications for future development in New Mexico.

With funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, we will start by compiling existing data (fall 2019). From there, we will review the compiled data and identify data gaps. Starting in the spring of 2020, our research team will seek to fill high-priority data gaps by working with land owners and well owners to collect water samples, measure groundwater levels, locate springs, and conduct geophysical surveys. Findings from each of these tasks will be used to update the region’s current hydrologic model so that the aquifer system of the Salt Basin can be more accurately modeled.

The majority of field data collection is expected to take place during the summer and fall 2020 and is focused on the New Mexico portion of the Salt Basin (see adjacent image). The project is expected to be complete by October 2021 with a summary of findings available as an open-file report on this website.

For more information, please contact
Dr. Talon Newton


  1. Kelley, S.; Fichera, M.; Evenocheck, E.; Eberle, B.A.; Person, M.; Cadol, D.; Newton, B.T.; Timmons, S.; Pokorny, C., 2020, Assessment of Water Resources in the Salt Basin Region of New Mexico and Texas: Data Summary Report, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Open-file Report 608, 55 pp.

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