Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste; characterization of the Rio Grande region, New Mexico and Texas
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- Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste— Characterization of the Rio Grande region, New Mexico and Texas(1989)
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The Rio Grande region, New Mexico and Texas, includes most of the area east of the Rio Grande to the Sacramento Mountains. The Legion encompasses two large basins, the Jornada del Muerto and Tularosa basins, and the intervening San Andres Mountains. The altitude of the valley surfaces generally are from 600 to 1.500 meters. The mountain ranges generally have altitudes from 1,500 to 2,400 meters. About one-half the area is underlain by basin fill.
Outcropping sedimentary rocks in the Rio Grande region range in age from Precambrian to Holocene. The oldest Precambrian rocks are metamorphosed and intruded by plutons. Paleozoic rocks are primarily carbonate rocks, with argillaceous beds, in the older Paleozoic units. Clastic and gypsum are in greater abundance in younger Paleozoic units of Pennsylvanian and Permian age. The Mesozoic rocks primarily are clastic rocks with some limestone. Cenozoic rocks consist of sequences of conglomerate, sandstone, mudstone, and siltstone derived from adjacent mountain masses, interbedded with basalt and andesite flows, and silicic tuffs. Volcanic activity continued into the Quaternary. Early to middle Tertiary volcanic and tectonic processes resulted in the implacement of plutonic bodies.
Media considered to have potential for isolation of high-level radioactive waste include intrusive rocks, ash-flow tuff, and basaltic lava flows. Laharic and mudflow breccia and argillaceous beds also may be prospective host rocks. These and other rocks may be prospective media in areas where the unsaturated zone is thick.
Quaternary faults are more common in the southern one-half of the region than in the northern one-half. Range-bounding faults with evidence of Quaternary movement extend northward into the central part of the region. Volcanic activity in the northern part of the region includes basalt flows of Quaternary age. Historical crustal uplift and seismicity have occurred in the vicinity of Socorro, New Mexico. The region is bordered on the west by an area with heat flow greater than 2.5 heat-flow units. A few measurements of this magnitude have been made within the region.
Recharge to ground water in the Rio Grande region occurs in the higher altitudes where precipitation is greater, that is, in the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains and on the Chupadera Mesa. Ground-water flow from units west of the San Andres Mountains discharge to the Rio Grande. The ground-water flow unit of the Tularosa basin ultimately discharges to the Rio Grande or to wells in the vicinity of El Paso. Intermediate discharge points in the Tularosa basin include seepage to streams, springs, and evaporation to playas in the central part of the basin. Dissolved-solids concentations in ground water in the region generally are more than 1,000 milligrams per liter. The dissolved-solids concentrations in ground water in the recharge areas generally are less than 1,000 milligrams per liter. Dissolved-solids of concentrations ranging from 3,000 to 25,000 milligrams per liter are found in the ground water underlying the playa area in the central part of the Tularosa basin.
The more than 43 mining districts in the region contain base metals and to a lesser extent, precious metals, in vein and replacement deposits. Four coal fields are located in the region.
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Title||Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste; characterization of the Rio Grande region, New Mexico and Texas|
|Series title||Open-File Report|
|Publisher||U.S. Geological Survey|
|Publisher location||Reston, VA|
|Description||Report: xii, 148 p.; 7 Plates: 22.76 x 36.65 inches or smaller|
|State||New Mexico, Texas|
|Other Geospatial||Rio Grande|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|