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A Geologic Odyssey: Geologic setting

Our study area is along the broad aggradational surface of the floor of the Albuquerque basin south of Albuquerque known as the Sunport surface (Maldonado et al., 1999) or Mesa del Sol. The broad surface (approximately 10 km wide) was formed by the constructional anastomosing channels and floodplain of the early Pleistocene Rio Grande. The deposits are sand, pebbly sand, and gravel channels with silt and clay overbank units, oxbows, marshes, and evidence for a riparian bosque (Knight et al., 1996) with shallow water table.

Since this surface was abandoned in early Pleistocene time, the Rio Grande has entrenched to form an erosional valley border to the west while alluvial aprons from the Manzanita and Manzano Mountains have encroached from the east, burying parts of the basin floor. Faults have cut the basin floor surface into a number of small blocks.

A shaded relief image of the Mesa del Sol area south of Albuquerque made from a digital elevation model and a western sun incident at 25deg above the horizon to show fault scarps and erosional relief
(click image to zoom)

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Definitions | Geologic setting
Field observations | Laboratory observations | Hypothesis
Develop a semi-quantitative model to test the hypothesis
Discussion and variations | Abstract | References