Evaluation and proposed study of potential ground-water supplies, Gallup area, New Mexico

Open-File Report 75-522




The ground-water potential of 5 areas in central-western New Mexico within 85 miles (135 km) of Gallup, N. Mex. was evaluated by reviewing the published literature, inspecting aerial and space photographs, and interviewing ranchers and personnel employed by well-drilling and mineral-exploration companies by telephone. The San Andres Limestone and underlying Glorieta Sandstone of Permian age are the oldest aquifers capable of yielding water of a quality suitable for municipal use. Extreme local variations in hydraulic conductivity and water quality reflect a karstic topography developed on the San Andres Limestone prior to burial by Upper Triassic sediments. The San Andres Limestone and Glorieta Sandstone form an important aquifer in the Grants-Bluewater area where yields of as much as 2,200 gallons per minute (140 l/s) have been obtained. Yields from wells completed in the San Andres-Glorieta aquifer on the Chaco slope and in the Gallup sag-Mogollon slope on the northeast and southeast flanks, respectively, of the Zuni uplift will be much less than those prevailing in the Grants-Bluewater area. Water quality in the San Andres Limestone and Glorieta Sandstone deteriorates with distance away from the axis of the Zuni uplift. Sandstones of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous age are potential aquifers wherever they are present. Yields to wells tapping these aquifers are generally less than 200 gallons per minute (13 l/s) due to the relatively low hydraulic conductivity. Wells tapping alluvium of Late Cenozoic age along the Rio San Jose and Puerco River and interbedded volcanics and alluvium elsewhere in the area generally yield less than 100 gallons per minute (6 l/s) of water. Tributaries ,of the Rio San Jose that have eroded canyons into Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks east of the Continental Divide and south of the eastern part of the Zuni uplift have been repeatedly displaced and (or) covered by Quaternary volcanic rocks. The exact location, extent, and depth of buried alluvium in the Late Tertiary valleys is unknown. Water enters the volcanic rocks as rainfall and snowmelt and probably passes quickly into and through, the underlying alluvium into Jurassic and Cretaceous strata. The Gallup Sandstone in the lower part of the Mesaverde Group and the San Andres Limestone and Glorieta Sandstone (combined) are potential sources of water in the North Plains-Malpais area. Sustained yields of 500 to 800 gallons per minute (30 to 50 l/s) can be expected from wells completed in the Gallup Sandstone of Cretaceous age in areas west and north of the Zuni uplift. Properly completed wells tapping the Dakota Sandstone of Cretaceous age and the Westwater Canyon Sandstone Member of the Morrison Formation of Jurassic age locally yield 100 to 250 gallons per minute (6 to 15 l/s) north and east of Gallup. Additional supplies of ground water could be developed from these aquifers. However, arrangements to purchase or lease the water would probably need to be made before these resources could be exploited. Approximately 3,000 gallons per minute (190 l/s) of ground water is being pumped from the Westwater Canyon Member of the Morrison Formation at two uranium mines located about 12 miles (20 km) northeast of Gallup in the Church Rock mining district. The water is pumped into settling ponds at the surface. Effluent from the ponds is allowed to flow into arroyos draining into the Puerco River. Some of the waste water will be used in an ore-processing mill that is expected to be constructed near the mines. However, additional waste water will probably be available from other mines that reportedly will be located in the same mining district. Water salvaged from the current mining operations and (or) pumped from abandoned uranium mines constitutes the most readily available and dependable source of new ground-water supplies for the city of Gallup. The water contains dissolved uranium but is otherwise of better quality than that now avai

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Evaluation and proposed study of potential ground-water supplies, Gallup area, New Mexico
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
153 leaves :maps (some folded) ;29 cm.