The salt deposits of Los Medanos area, in Eddy and Lea Counties, southeastern New Mexico, are being considered for possible use as a receptacle for radioactive wastes in a pilot-plant repository. The salt deposits of the area. are in three evaporite formations: the Castile, Salado, and Rustler Formations, in ascending order. The three formations are dominantly anhydrite and rock salt, but some gypsum, potassium ores, carbonate rock, and fine-grained clastic rocks are present. They have combined thicknesses of slightly more than 4,000 feet, of which roughly one-half belongs to the Salado. Both the Castile and the Rustler are-richer in anhydrite-and poorer in rock salt-than the Salado, and they provide this salt-rich formation with considerable Protection from any fluids which might be present in underlying or overlying rocks.
The Salado Formation contains many thick seams of rock salt at moderate depths below the surface. The rock salt has a substantial cover of well-consolidated rocks, and it is very little deformed structurally.
Certain geological details essential for Waste-storage purposes are unknown or poorly known, and additional study involving drilling is required to identify seams of rock salt suitable for storage purposes and to establish critical details of their chemistry, stratigraphy, and structure.
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USGS Numbered Series
Salt deposits in Los Medanos area, Eddy and Lea counties, New Mexico