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Open-File Report 2006-1205

Questa Baseline and Pre-mining Ground-Water Quality Investigation, 7. A Pictorial Record of Chemical Weathering, Erosional Processes, and Potential Debris-flow Hazards in Scar Areas Developed on Hydrothermally Altered Rocks

By Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Steve Ludington, Kirk R. Vincent, Philip L. Verplanck, Jonathan S. Caine, and K. Eric Livo


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Erosional scar areas developed along the lower Red River basin, New Mexico, reveal a complex natural history of mineralizing processes, rapid chemical weathering, and intense physical erosion during periodic outbursts of destructive, storm-induced runoff events.

The scar areas are prominent erosional features with craggy headwalls and steep, denuded slopes. The largest scar areas, including, from east to west, Hottentot Creek, Straight Creek, Hansen Creek, Lower Hansen Creek, Sulfur Gulch, and Goat Hill Gulch, head along high east-west trending ridges that form the northern and southern boundaries of the lower Red River basin. Smaller, topographically lower scar areas are developed on ridge noses in the inner Red River valley.

Several of the natural scar areas have been modified substantially as a result of large-scale open-pit and underground mining at the Questa Mine; for example, much of the Sulfur Gulch scar was removed by open pit mining, and several scars are now partially or completely covered by mine waste dumps.

First posted May 1, 2009

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Suggested citation:

Plumlee, G.S., Ludington, S., Vincent, K.R., Verplanck, P.L., Caine, J.S., and Livo, K.E., 2009, Questa baseline and pre-mining ground-water quality investigation, 7. A pictorial record of chemical weathering, erosional processes, and potential debris-flow hazards in scar areas developed on hydrothermally altered rocks: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006–1205.

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