Los Medanos area of eastern Eddy and western Lea Counties, New Mexico, is being considered for possible siting of a repository Facility for experimental studies of nuclear-waste emplacement in salt beds of the Salado Formation of Permian age. The potential repository site encompasses about 29 square miles (75 square kilometres) of sandy terrain near the center of Los Medanos. The site is underlain by evaporite and red bed formations having an aggregate thickness of 4,462 feet (1,360 metres).
The Salado Formation, which is the main salt-bearing unit of the area, lies at a depth of 1,000 feet (305 metres). The formation is almost 1,970 feet (600 metres) of rock salt with prominent interbeds of anhydrite, polyhalite, glauberite, some widely spaced seams of fine-grained clastic rocks, and a few potash deposits containing sylvite and langbeinite. The potash deposits occur in salt beds 517-871 feet (158-265 metres) below the top of the formation. The lower half of the formation includes some salt beds which may be used for the experimental emplacement of nuclear wastes. Most, if not nearly all, of the potential repository site is underlain by potash deposits that contain sylvite and langbeinite.
The deposits grade 12-13 percent K2O as sylvite and 3-11 percent K2O as langbeinite, and must be regarded as having economic potential for potassium minerals. There is considerable uncertainty concerning the full extent and total range in quality of the ores in the deposit, and subsurface investigation will be required to assess their potential.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Potash resources in part of Los Medanos area of Eddy and Lea Counties, New Mexico
U.S. Geological Survey,
37 p. :ill. (1 fold. in pocket) map, tables (some fold. in pocket) ;27 cm.