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Part 1, The coal field from Gallup eastward toward Mount Taylor, with a measured section of pre-Dakota(?) rocks near Navajo Church

January 1, 1934

The report describes the geology and coal deposits of the southwestern part of the San Juan Basin, N.Mex. The field lies northeast of the town of Gallup, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, and is an irregular tract of about 630 square miles in central and west-central McKinley County; it includes the southeast corner of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Settlement is confined to the white families at a few trading posts and the Indian agency at Crown Point and to scattered Navajo Indians. The land forms, drainage, vegetation, and climate are those typical of the highland in the semiarid Southwest.

The investigation disclosed complicated relations of the Mancos shale and the Mesaverde formation, of Upper Cretaceous age, and a marked variation in the stratigraphic boundary between them. At the western edge of the field, as in the adjoining Gallup coal district, the Mancos consists of about 725 feet of marine shale almost wholly of Benton (lower Colorado) age. It is overlain by about 1,800 feet of chiefly estuarine and fluviatile deposits that represent the lower part of the Mesaverde formation. In ascending order the Mesaverde here consists of the Gallup sandstone member (which includes local lenses of valuable coal), the Dilco coal member, the Bartlett barren member, the Gibson coal member, and the Allison barren member. Eastward through the field the outcrops extend obliquely across the trend of old shore lines out into the ancient basin of marine deposition, and some of the beds consequently show a progressive lateral change into rocks of littoral and marine types. The Gallup sandstone member is in part replaced by marine shale of the Mancos. The upper part of the Dilco coal member is replaced by the Dalton sandstone member, and still farther east the bottom of the Dalton and the top of the remaining Dilco are replaced by the Mulatto tongue of the Mancos shale. The Bartlett barren member becomes coal-bearing and thus merges with the Gibson. The Gibson coal member is split by the thick Hosta sandstone member, which toward the east and northeast is in turn split by the Satan tongue of the Mancos shale, of upper Niobrara (upper Colorado) age.

In general the structure of the rocks is simple, showing a gentle northward dip into the San Juan Basin. At the west edge of the field the rocks dip steeply west in the north end of the prominent ridges known locally as the Hogback. In the eastern part there is a series of pronounced folds, whose crests and troughs retain the gentle basinward dip but whose limbs are steep monoclines that in places are faulted.

The coal is of subbituminous rank and of fairly good grade. The coal beds are very irregular and lenticular. Those in the Gallup and Dilco members are of comparatively little importance, reaching a thickness of 4 to 5 feet in only a few places and, in general, being less than 3 feet thick. The coal beds of the Gibson, especially of its lower part, are more numerous and thicker, measurements of 4 to 6 feet thick being fairly common and one bed showing a thickness of 12 feet for more than a mile. No commercial mining has been undertaken in this field, but a few small mines have been used to supply trading posts and the Indian schools at Crown Point and Tohatchi.

Publication Year 1934
Title Part 1, The coal field from Gallup eastward toward Mount Taylor, with a measured section of pre-Dakota(?) rocks near Navajo Church
DOI 10.3133/b860A
Authors Julian D. Sears
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Bulletin
Series Number 860
Index ID b860A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse