Skip Links

Scientific Investigations Report 2004–5245

About USGS /  Science Topics /  Maps, Products & Publications /  Education / Publication: FAQ

Questa Baseline and Premining Ground-Water Quality Investigaion 10.

Geologic Influences on Ground and Surface Waters in the Red River Watershed, New Mexico

By Steve Ludington, Geoff Plumlee, Jonathan Caine, Dana Bove, JoAnn Holloway, and Eric Livo

Prepared in cooperation with the New Mexico Environment Department
Thumbnail of cover and link to PDF (90.3 MB)Download Publication
SIR 5245
PDF (90.3 MB)
Right-Click to 'Save As' or 'Download'

This report is one in a series that presents results of an interdisciplinary U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study of ground-water quality in the lower Red River watershed prior to open-pit and underground molybdenite mining at Molycorp’s Questa mine. The stretch of the Red River watershed that extends from just upstream of the town of Red River, N. Mex., to just above the town of Questa includes several mineralized areas in addition to the one mined by Molycorp. Natural erosion and weathering of pyrite-rich rocks in the mineralized areas has created a series of erosional scars along this stretch of the Red River that contribute acidic waters, as well as mineralized alluvial material and sediments, to the river. The overall goal of the USGS study is to infer the premining ground-water quality at the Molycorp mine site. An integrated geologic, hydrologic, and geochemical model for ground water in the mineralized—but unmined—Straight Creek drainage (a tributary of the Red River) is being used as an analog for the geologic, geochemical, and hydrologic conditions that influenced ground-water quality and quantity in the Red River drainage prior to mining.

This report provides an overall geologic framework for the Red River watershed between Red River and Questa, in northern New Mexico, and summarizes key geologic, mineralogic, structural and other characteristics of various mineralized areas (and their associated erosional scars and debris fans) that likely influence ground- and surface-water quality and hydrology. The premining nature of the Sulphur Gulch and Goat Hill Gulch scars on the Molycorp mine site can be inferred through geologic comparisons with other unmined scars in the Red River drainage.

Version 1.0

Posted August 2005

  • Report PDF (90.3 MB)
    (This version of the report is accessible as defined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Amendments of 1998.)
*Downloading Suggestion
It is best to download a large file to your hard drive rather than open it inside your browser. A standard click may automatically open the PDF file inside the browser but doing so will result in a very slow load. Downloading the file may take several moments but will be worth the wait. Once it is downloaded, open it from your hard drive—it will open in a fraction of the time it would take to open over the Internet.

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Acrobat Reader, free of charge or go to access.adobe.com for free tools that allow visually impaired users to read PDF files.

USA.gov logo  Take Pride in America button