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Thickness of Santa Fe Group sediments in the Española Basin south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as estimated from aeromagnetic data

By Jeffrey D. Phillips and V.J.S. Grauch

Open-File Report 2004–1354

Version 1.0
Published 2004

In the southern Española basin south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, weakly magnetic Santa Fe Group sediments of Oligocene to Pleistocene age, which represent the primary aquifers for the region, are locally underlain by moderately to strongly magnetic igneous and volcaniclastic rocks of Oligocene age. Where this relationship exists, the thickness of Santa Fe Group sediments, and thus the maximum thickness of the aquifers, can be estimated from quantitative analysis of high-resolution aeromagnetic data. These thickness estimates provide guidance for characterizing the ground-water resources in between scattered water wells in this area of rapid urban development and declining water supplies.

This report presents one such analysis based on the two-step extended Euler method for estimating depth to magnetic sources. The results show the general form of a north-trending synclinal basin located between the Cerrillos Hills and Eldorado with northward thickening of Santa Fe Group sediments. The increase in thickness is gradual from the erosional edge on the south to a U-shaped “Santa Fe embayment hinge line,” north of which sediments thicken much more dramatically. Along the north-south basin axis, Santa Fe Group sediments thicken from 300 feet (91 meters) at the hinge line near latitude 35°32'30"N to 2,000 feet (610 meters) at the Cerrillos Road interchange at Interstate 25, north of latitude 35°36'N. The depth analysis indicates that, superimposed on this general synclinal form, there are many local areas where the Santa Fe Group sediments may be thickened by a few hundred feet, presumably due to erosional relief on the underlying Oligocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks. Some larger areas of greater apparent thickening occur where the presence of magnetic rocks directly underlying the Santa Fe Group is uncertain. Where magnetic rocks are absent beneath the Santa Fe Group, the thickness cannot be estimated from the aeromagnetic data.

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