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Ground-water resources of Catron County, New Mexico

September 1, 1997

This report describes the occurrence, availability, and quality
of ground-water and related surface-water resources in Catron
County, the largest county in New Mexico. The county is located in
the Lower Colorado River Basin and the Rio Grande Basin, and the
Continental Divide is the boundary between the two river basins.
Increases in water used for mining activities (coal, mineral, and
geothermal), irrigated agriculture, reservoir construction, or
domestic purposes could affect the quantity or quality of ground-
water and surface-water resources in the county.

Parts of seven major drainage basins are within the two
regional river basins in the county--Carrizo Wash, North Plains,
Rio Salado, San Agustin, Alamosa Creek, Gila, and San Francisco
Basins. The San Francisco, Gila, and Tularosa Rivers typically
flow perennially. During periods of low flow, most streamflow is
derived from baseflow. The stream channels of the Rio Salado and
Carrizo Wash Basins are commonly perennial in their upper reaches
and ephemeral in their lower reaches. Largo Creek in the Carrizo
Wash Basin is perennial downstream from Quemado Lake and ephemeral
in the lower reaches.

Aquifers in Catron County include Quaternary alluvium and
bolson fill; Quaternary to Tertiary Gila Conglomerate; Tertiary
Bearwallow Mountain Andesite, Datil Group, and Baca Formation;
Cretaceous Mesaverde Group, Crevasse Canyon Formation, Gallup
Sandstone, Mancos Shale, and Dakota Sandstone; Triassic Chinle
Formation; and undifferentiated rocks of Permian age. Water in the
aquifers in the county generally is unconfined; however, confined
conditions may exist where the aquifers are overlain by other units
of lower permeability.

Yields of ground water from the Quaternary alluvium in the
county range from 1 to 375 gallons per minute. Yields of ground
water from the alluvium in the Carrizo Wash Basin are as much as
250 gallons per minute for short time periods. North of the Plains
of San Agustin, ground-water yields from the alluvium in the San
Agustin Basin range from 1 to 10 gallons per minute.

Irrigation wells completed in the Quaternary bolson fill
produce as much as 975 gallons per minute immediately east of the
county. Water from the bolson fill in the Plains of San Agustin has
specific-conductance values generally ranging from 180 to 3,300
microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius (microsiemens/cm).

Yields from the Gila Conglomerate generally range from 2 to 5
gallons per minute. Water samples from two springs from the Gila
Conglomerate have specific conductances of 289 and 381 microsiemens/cm.

The Tertiary Datil Group is present in the Carrizo Wash, San
Agustin, San Francisco, and Gila Basins. The Datil Group commonly
is unconfined, but may be confined at depth. Water levels of wells
completed in this unit range from 60 to 1,260 feet below land
surface. Wells completed in the Datil Group typically yield 1 to
15 gallons per minute. Specific conductance of water from the
Datil Group ranges from 210 to 820 microsiemens/cm. The Tertiary Baca
Formation in the Carrizo Wash Basin produces 5 to 20 gallons per
minute in stock wells. Water from wells completed in the Baca
Formation has specific-conductance values ranging from 312 to 752
microsiemens/cm.

Aquifers in Cretaceous rocks are present in the Carrizo Wash,
North Plains, and Rio Salado Basins. The potential yield from wells
completed in Cretaceous rocks in northwestern Catron County is from
1 to 122 gallons per minute. Specific conductance of water from
Cretaceous rocks ranges from 210 microsiemens/cm in the Moreno Hill
Formation to 4,490 microsiemens/cm in the Mancos Shale. Yields of ground
water from Cretaceous rocks in the Carrizo Wash Basin typically
range from 1 to 100 gallons per minute; in an artesian well,
however, the yield in the main body of the Creta

Citation Information

Publication Year 1997
Title Ground-water resources of Catron County, New Mexico
DOI 10.3133/wri964258
Authors G.T. Basabilvazo
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 96-4258
Index ID wri964258
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization