Geology of the Southern Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

Professional Paper 215




This report deals with an area of 425 square miles in the western part of Texas, immediately south of the New Mexico line. The area comprises the south end of the Guadalupe Mountains and the adjacent part of the Delaware Mountains; it includes the highest peaks in the State of Texas. The area is a segment of a large mountain mass that extends 50 miles or more northward and southward. The report describes the geology of the area, that is, the nature of its rocks, tectonics, and surface features, and the evidence that they give as to the evolution of the area through geologic time. Incidental reference is made to the geology of surrounding regions in order to place the area in its environment.

The Permian system of the southwestern United States has been until recently one of the intriguing but little known subjects of American stratigraphy. In the latter half of the nineteenth century after the western. United States was settled, the "red bed" sections of the Permian were studied and reported on by many geologists, but up to 1920 the existence of a contemporaneous marine sequence in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico was little appreciated. Since that year the discovery of extensive oil fields and potash beds in this region gave an impetus to the study of the Permian rocks, and furnished the geologist with records of hundreds of drill holes from which to deduce the nature of the strata not exposed at the surface. At the same time geologists have studied the rocks in the outcropping areas, and have compared them with the strata encountered by drilling.

Much remains to be done in order to understand the history of Permian time in the region. The physical and chemical conditions that caused. the deposition of .the various and often complexly related deposits need to be better understood. More of the fossils of the rich and interesting marine faunas should be described, and the relations of the fossils to their environments should be determined. Further, a satisfactory scheme of correlation is needed, and also a subdivision into series that will express the contemporaneity of strata in different areas. One useful contribution to the solution of these problems is the detailed study of sequences of rocks exposed at the surface in the different mountain ranges of Texas and New Mexico.

This report deals with one such sequence of rocks in western Texas, the one exposed in the southern Guadalupe Mountains (fig. 1). Here, the Permian rocks are magnificently exposed, to a thickness of about 4,000 feet (pl. 1). They are all of marine origin, and belong to the middle part of the system, with the base concealed and the top absent. Overlying and underlying beds, however, are found in nearby areas.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Geology of the Southern Guadalupe Mountains, Texas
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: vi, 183 p.; 13 Plates: 44.74 x 37.71 inches or less
United States