NEOGENE BASIN-FILL AQUIFER SYSTEMS OF THE BI-NATIONAL PASO DEL NORTE REGION〞ADVANCES IN CHARACTERIZATION OF THEIR DEPOSITIONAL HISTORY AND HYDROGEOLOGIC FRAMEWORK

 

John W. Hawley, HAWLEY GEOMATTERS

P.O. Box 4370, Albuquerque, NM 87196, hgeomatters@qwest.net, (505) 255-4847

John F. Kennedy, Caelum West, Inc., White Sands Missile Range, NM 88004,

jfk2004@comcast.net, (505) 649-0420

Marquita Ortiz, New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, NMSU, Box 30001, MSC 3167, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001, marqorti@wrri.nmsu.edu, (505) 646-4337

 

 

Abstract

 

Major progress has been made during the past decade in characterizing the depositional history and hydrogeologic framework of the basin-fill aquifer systems that collectively form the only significant groundwater resource in the Paso del Norte region of south-central New Mexico, western Trans-Pecos Texas, and north-central Chihuahua, Mexico. The region includes the Mesilla and Hueco-Tularosa basins of the Rio Grande rift tectonic province, and the Mesilla and El Paso Valleys of the Rio Grande/Bravo fluvial system. Most importantly, the El Paso/Ciudad Ju芍rez/Las Cruces metro-area (with a population of about 2 million) is centered in the river-valley corridor. Hydrogeologic/GIS research described here was coordinated by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute; however, it is only part of several ongoing multi-institutional/disciplinary studies of surface-water and groundwater resources. For example, a new phase of hydrogeologic/geohydrologic investigations has recently been initiated in collaboration with El Paso Water Utilities-Hydrogeology and GIS Sections, and the Universidad Aut車noma de Ciudad Ju芍rez-Centro de Informaci車n Geogr芍fica.

 

The two major aquifer systems of the Paso del Norte region comprise 1) intermontane-basin fill of the Neogene Santa Fe Group that is as much as 750 m thick; and 2) fluvial channel deposits of the Late Quaternary Rio Grande, which are confined to the inner river valley and less than 30 m thick. To date, their depositional history and hydrogeologic framework have been digitally characterized with two surficial maps, 36 cross sections, and a structure-contour map of the base of the Santa Fe Group. The most productive lithofacies assemblages in the basin-fill aquifer system are 1) fluvial and fluvial-deltaic sands of the Upper Santa Fe hydrostratigraphic unit (HSU) deposited by the ancestral Rio Grande; and 2) thick eolian-sand deposits in the Lower Santa Fe HSU. The latter lithofacies is mainly restricted to a 200-500 m depth zone below the Mesilla Valley floor. Pluvial lake and associated fluvial systems in the Tularosa Basin (Lake Otero-NM) and the Bolson de los Muertos (Rio Casas Grandes/Lake Palomas-Chihuahua) were major contributors to aquifer recharge in the Late Quaternary (~6 to 100 ka).

 

 

 

 

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