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Structure of the basins and ranges, Southwest New Mexico, an interpretation of seismic velocity sections

December 1, 1995

This report presents a geologic appraisal of seismic velocity sections that profile a total of 790 km in southwest New Mexico west of Las Cruces and south of Lordsburg and Deming. The present work outlines the contribution of these velocity sections to estimating areas favorable for mineral resource occurrences. Seismic refraction surveys are carried out with the initial goal of estimating the subsurface distribution of acoustic compressional velocity (Vp), which may ultimately be interpreted to provide information on lithology, geologic structure, and the occurrence of natural resources. The seismic sections presented here show velocity detail having dimensions of 100's to 1000's of meters to a depth of about 2.5 km, and across a net of traverses that profile most basins well as several ranges in the study area.

Figure 1 shows the location of the seismic refraction lines. The lines are designated 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7; there is no line 6. The survey covers a broad swath of the southwest Basin and Range Province extending from the Arizona border eastward to the Rio Grande River, and from the Mexican border to about lat. 32° 30' N. Lines 1, 3, and 7 traverse the axis of basins in roughly northsouth directions; the remaining lines 2, 4, and 5 trend east-west and cross various ranges and basins.

Seismic data that have been collected in this region include deep-crustal refraction traverses by university scientists and commercial seismic reflection profiles acquired for petroleum exploration. Results of deep-crustal refraction studies are reviewed to provide a regional setting for the higher resolution refraction data. Results from seismic reflection will not be discussed. Industry reflection data in the area are not generally available for non-proprietary use. The nearest reflection data publicly available are in the Socorro area, about 80 km north of the present study area (Brown and others, 1980). These data were acquired by the Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling (COCORP), a public-supported research group, to investigate the possibility of magma beneath part of the Rio Grande valley.

Up to 1978 there were about 36 deep borings in the region of southwest New Mexico (Thompson and others, 1978). This drilling resulted mainly from an evaluation of petroleum potential of the Pedrogosa basin which is an extensive area of Paleozoic subsidence in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico that accumulated about three kilometers of Paleozoic sedimentary rock (Zeller, 1965; Thompson and others, 1978). Of these drill holes, 25 are close enough to the present seismic sections to provide correlations of velocity to lithology, and to provide an estimate of the errors associated with depth-to-interface interpretations. This information is summarized prior to considering the implications of the seismic sections in detail. The major portion of the report centers around two plates: Plate I shows seismic lines and selected drill hole locations superimposed on gravity contours, and Plate II shows velocitysections with drill hole summaries. These plates provide the foundation for developing inferences on buried lithologic, structural, and mineral resources for the region.

Publication Year 1995
Title Structure of the basins and ranges, Southwest New Mexico, an interpretation of seismic velocity sections
DOI 10.3133/ofr95506
Authors Douglas P. Klein, Gerda A. Abrams, Patricia L. Hill
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 95-506
Index ID ofr95506
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse