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Geologic map of the Sunshine 7.5' quadrangle, Taos County, New Mexico

February 26, 2014

The Sunshine 7.5' quadrangle is located in the south-central part of the San Luis Basin of northern New Mexico, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, and contains deposits that record volcanic, tectonic, and associated alluvial and colluvial processes over the past four million years. Sunshine Valley, named for the small locale of Sunshine, is incised by a series of northeast-trending drainages cut into Tertiary and Quaternary alluvial deposits forming an extensive alluvial apron between the east flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande. These deposits predominantly overlie gently eastward-dipping lava flows of Pliocene Servilleta Basalt erupted from centers west of the map area. Servilleta Basalt lava flows terminate to the south against the elevated topography of three volcanic centers of the Taos Plateau volcanic field. From west to east these are Cerro de la Olla, Cerro Chiflo, and Guadalupe Mountain that are exposed in the southern part of the map area. Remnants of Miocene volcanic rocks are exposed near the southwestern edge of the map area and record evidence of an eroded volcanic terrain underlying deposits of the Taos Plateau volcanic field. These deposits are likely fault bounded to the east, roughly coincident with north to northwest trending, down-to-east faults in the southwestern quarter of the map area. The down-to-east normal faults reflect the basinward migration of the western margin of the Sunshine Valley sub-basin of the southern San Luis Basin.


Pliocene and younger basin deposition was accommodated along predominantly north-trending fault-bounded grabens and is preserved as poorly exposed fault scarps that cut lava flows of Ute Mountain volcano, north of the map area. The Servilleta Basalt and younger surficial deposits record largely down-to-east basinward displacement. Faults are identified with varying confidence levels in the map area. Recognizing and mapping faults developed near the surface in relatively young, brittle volcanic rocks is difficult because: (1) they tend to form fractured zones tens of meters wide rather than discrete fault planes, (2) the relative youth of the deposits has resulted in only modest displacements on most faults, and (3) some of the faults may have significant strike-slip components that do not result in large vertical offsets that are readily apparent in offset of sub-horizontal contacts. Those faults characterized as “certain” either have distinct offset of map units or had slip planes that were directly observed in the field. Lineaments defined from magnetic anomalies form an additional constraint on potential fault locations.

Publication Year 2014
Title Geologic map of the Sunshine 7.5' quadrangle, Taos County, New Mexico
DOI 10.3133/sim3283
Authors Ren A. Thompson, Kenzie J. Turner, Ralph R. Shroba, Michael A. Cosca, Chester A. Ruleman, John P. Lee, Theodore R. Brandt
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Map
Series Number 3283
Index ID sim3283
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center