October Field Trip- Naciniento Mine
By Jim Smith
An October field trip was run by the Parajito Environmental Education Center on Oct 5th at the Nacimiento Mine east of Cuba, NM. The tour was led by Patrick Rowe, a member of the Los Alamos Geological Society. The Nacimiento Mine is an abandoned copper mine that was first mined between 1881 and the early 1900s. Mining was sporadic at the site until the late 1960s.
In the late 60s and early 70s, ore was removed using open pit mining techniques. This operation ceased in 1975. In 1984, Leaching Technology, Inc. started developing in-situ leaching at the site whereby acid was injected into the ore bearing zone, however in-situ leaching was determined to be uneconomical. An unknown amount of acid was left in the ground.
The owner of the company, a Canadian, had passed away and his estate had been settled long before an effort to begin remediation took place. As a result, the US Forest Service got stuck with the bill. They began remediating the underground water in 2007 using cutting edge technology. Larry Gore, a geologist from the Forest Service in Santa Fe, gave the group a talk on the remediation efforts, which are still ongoing today.
The Mine is situated on the upthrown side of the Nacimiento Fault. The source rock the copper was mined from is the Triassic Shinarump Formation, formerly known as the Agua Zarca. The Shinarump here slopes down to the west as a monocline. The Shinarump formation here is a poorly cemented coarse grained white sandstone with some conglomerate at the base along with fossilized carbonaceous wood material that has partially been replaced with Chalcocite and Malachite.
In addition, we found numerous red-bed septarian nodules that contain calcite crystals in the centers. These nodules were found in Salitral Formation of the Chinle Group which overlies the Shinarump.
August Field Trip- Rio Grande Raft Trip and Harding Mine
By Jim Smith
The August field trip was held in north-central NM starting at Pilar NM which is south of Taos and ended at the Harding Pegmatite mine in the Picuris Range. The Field trip began with a 4 ½ hour raft trip down the Rio Grande River. We had 6 geologists attend as well as 4 family members. No AIPG members attended this field trip. A big lesson learned for me was that separate rafts with rafting guides that made no attempt to keep our group together made it very difficult to talk geology as we traveled down the river. The raft trip was down the section of the Rio Grande called the racecourse. The Racecourse route starts at Pilar and goes SW to the county line just north of Dixon, NM. It parallels Highway 68. The river here follows the Embudo Fault zone and is the boundary between the San Luis Basin which tilts to the east and the Espanola Basin which tilts to the west. The Embudo fault is actually a zone of faults that run approximately 64 km long in a NE-SW direction. The northern portion ties into the Canon section of the Sangre De Cristo and the southern end ties into the Parajito fault near the Valles Caldera. The Embudo Fault follows along the Jemez Lineament. Dr. Karlstrom states the Jemez lineament is composed of oppositely opposing dipping zones of seismic reflections that converge in the deep crust.
The geologic formations we passed by included the Pliocene Servilleta Basalt dated to approximately 2.8 Ma on our right side. The Servilleta Basalt is a dark gray, olivine theolitic basalt flow from the Taos Volcanic Field. Above the basalt, we encountered Holocene-Pleistocene eolian sands and playa deposits. On our left, was much older rock.
Along this section of the Picuris Range, the oldest rocks we encountered was the Glenwoody Formation. The age of the Glenwoody Formation is approximately 1800 Ma. Montgomery mapped it as the Rio Pueblo Schist; Bauer changed the name to Glenwoody in 1989. The Glenwoody is a hydrothermally altered metamorphic rock that was a locally reworked felsic volcano flow and tuff deposit from a back-arc region. There is 328’ of pink schist: feldspathic quartz muscovite. The pink color is from a trace of manganese, 6% ferric iron as well as piemontite. Beneath it is an undetermined thickness of a green schist: andalusite-muscovite-quartz. It is colored green from the Mn-Andalusite (AKA Viridine). The bottom is not seen so Bauer speculates it sits on top of the Vadito Schist. The Glenwwody formation is seen along highway 68 south of Pilar, on the north flank of the Picuris Range and in an open pit mica mine in the SE portion of the range. Accessory Minerals include a tourmaline schorl and tourmaline dravite. High Angle faults can be seen with veins of quartz and calcite present. The Glenwoody Mine, along the Rio Grande River, was an attempt to mine gold from this formation. It was unsuccessful. At the top of the Glenwoody is a shear zone against the Ortega Formation.
The Ortega Formation is a metamorphic, gray to grayish white, medium grain quartzite. Its crossbedding can be seen because of black iron-oxide minerals present. Thickness varies between 2600’ and 4000’ indicating a stable environment. There are a few thin muscovite-schist layers. Accessory minerals include ilmenite, hematite, tourmaline, epidote, muscovite and zircon. The depositional environment for the sand was a slow transgressive event on a shallow marine shelf. Later, it was buried to a depth of 10 km due to the Yavapi/Mazatzal orogenic event of crustal shortening. The Ortega Formation is also seen at Tusas, Taos, Rincon, Truchas peaks and Rio Mora areas. In the Copper Hill area of the Picuris, you will also see fractures filled with oxidized copper minerals resulting from retrograde metamorphism during Precambrian time.
As we rafted further south the Rinconada formation was exposed overlying the Ortega. There are several very large boulders from this formation that are found in the river causing several nice rapids. The Rinconada Formation consists of several separate sections of Schists and quartzites. The oldest layers (H1 and H2) are composed of a gray-tan foliated schist: quartz-muscovite-biotite-staurollite-albite-garnet. You can find abundant staurollites including twinned staurolites in the bottom two sections. A great place to collect staurolites from this formation is just north of Pilar off the highway down a 4x4 road a few miles in. The next overlying layer (H3) is a 246’ thick politic schist. It has two layers of quartzite in it. You will see white-gray to blue-green medium grained texture with abundant crossbeds. The H4 layer is a medium-coarse grained silver gray quartz-muscovite-biotite-staurolite-garnet schist. It is 160’-574’ thick. The H5 layer of the Rinconada is a 250’ thick white to blue medium grained quartzite. It is interlayerd with fine grained schistose quartzite and quartz rich muscovite schist. Across from the take-out point at the county line is the H6 section of the Rinconada. The H6 section is a quartz-muscovite-biotite-staurollite garnet schist that is tan to silver gray. This section is 295’ thick and has layers of garnet-muscovite –quartzite found interlayered among the schist.
Following the raft trip, the group convoyed to south to Dixon, NM. Along the drive, we passed outcrops of the Tesque formation and Santa Fe Group consisting of conglomerates, sandstone and silt. We stopped for lunch at Zuly’s Café. There we were joined by a few more participants that did not opt for the raft trip.
After lunch, we traveled east on Highway 75 to the Harding Mine. We stopped at a nice outcrop of the Marquenas Formation. The Marquenas Formation here in the Picuris Range consists of metaconglomerates . Along the highway, the Marquenas formation is in contact with the much younger Piedre Lumbre due to the Plomo fault. The Marquenas overlies the Vadito schist.
The Picuris range is home to the Picuris Indians. Their pueblo is to the east of the Harding Mine. In the 1600’s the Picuris pueblo was reported to have consisted of buildings 9 stories tall. The Picuris pottery is strictly utilitarian. They use a micaceous clay. The mica imparts properties that make the pottery extremely strong and can withstand great heat. In 2004, the Picuris nation sued Oglebay Norton because their US Hill Mine ruined their sacred land where they had collected the clay for making pots. In 2005, the Picuris purchased the land and began a reclamation effort at a cost of $612K.
The first prospecting in the Picuris Range occurred in 1900 by the Copper Hill Mining Company. They developed the Champion mine by driving a 350’ adit and sank a 180’ shaft. They found vertical ore veins up to 3’ thick. They built a 100 ton mill. Shortly after it wsa built, it burnt down. The company went broke and sold the mine to the Champion Copper Company. The Champion Copper Company built a 25 ton mill. They ran ore from 1916-1918. It was not profitable, so was then shut down in 1920.
When we pulled into the parking lot at the Harding Mine we met a two more geologists joined the tour. We also were fortunate to have Mr. Gilbert Griego, the mine caretaker and descendant of one of the older miners, meet us at the gate and lead us on a portion of the tour. The Harding mine is located at a pegmatite outcrop. A pegmatite is an intrusive igneous rock composed of interlocking crystals usually larger than 2.5 cm. Present at the Harding mine were layers of different crystals ranging from quartz, to lepidolite, fledspar, spodume, microlite, beryl, etc. The country rock surrounding the pegmatite is amphibole. It is a complexe unit of metamorphosed and deformed volcanic, sedimentary and volcanoclastic rocks. It is mostly a olivine green hornblende. You will see some black basalt fragments, epidote clasts and some biotite schists, and meta-gabbro. The amphibole age is between 1,800 -2100 Ma.
Harding Pegmatite Mine History
The Harding Mine was first mined by Joseph J. Peyer from Taos in 1918 along with Frank Gallup from Taos, and Arthur Gossett from Embudo, NM. They used TNT to blow up the boulders of pegmatite to get to the lepidolite that is found there. They had to build a wagon trail to haul the ore to Embudo. From there, they shipped it to Wheeling, West Virginia where it was sold to the ceramics industry for white glass jar tops and indirect lighting. In 1920, The Mineral Mining and Milling Company out of New York took over. They drove an adit into the wall and headed south and then drove another one heading east. . By 1923, they were shipping 800 tons/year. In 1924 they suspended operations. They sent out to bad shipments that were not good for glass making. It is suspected that they contained tantalum.
In 1924, J.L. Danziger from Los Angeles started the Embudo Milling Company. He built a crushing and grinding plant in Embudo near the railroad depot. It was completed in 1927. He then opened a west adit at the Harding Mine. They crushed the ore, passed it through a magnetite separator, packaged the product and sold it to glass manufacturers for making glass that was resistant to thermal shock. By 1929, they had played out the main stock and began chasing shoots. In 1930, they closed down and turned the mine back over to the original owner. Overall, they had shipped out 13,500 tons of rock.
In 1931, a man named Juan Brown from Dixon discovered calcite in the form of Iceland Spar on the southwest side of the hill behind the Harding mine. The Iceland Spar was buried under only 3’ of overburden. He blasted out a open pit to recover the Iceland Spar which undoubtedly destroyed many nice specimens. The pit was 20’ wide, 24’ thick an 30’ long. The largest piece of Iceland Spar recovered weighed in at 5 pounds 8 ounces. Bausche and Lombe Company was his biggest customer. The calcite was deposited from hydrothermal sources. Note: we did not have time to explore for the calcite pit on this trip.In 1942, the US government was in need for tantalum for the war effort since it is extremely stable and is resistant to acids. Among other things, it was used to strengthen bridges and water tanks. Tantalum is number 73 on the periodic table and is named after the Greek mythological character Tantalus who was forced to stand chained in water with a fruit over his head that was out of reach. Today tantalum is used in capacitors due to its high capacitance. Your cell phone probably contains approximately 40 mg of tantalum in it. Implants also use Tantalum since does not reject it. The minerals at the Harding Mine include microlite, tantalite-columbite, and tantalite. A man named Arthur Montgomery visited the mine in 1942 and found that there was 10% by volume of the mineral in the mine dump. Arthur Montgomery was born in New York City. He was awarded his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Princeton in 1931 and his PhD in Geology from Harvard in 1951. His dissertation was Pre-Cambrian Geology of the Picuris Range, North Central NM. Arthur Montgomery lease purchased the property and worked with Flaudio Griego to begin chiseling microlite off the east wall to sell to the government. The US Bureau of Mines processed the ore in 1943 in Rolla, Missouri. In 1945, a hammer mill was built in Rinconada. It ground the ore and used gravity separation in a Humphrey’s Spiral Launder Machine. Production ceased in 1947. There is still a large supply of tantalum left in the mine and the US government blocked it off as a reserveIn 1943 there was another special request by the US War Production Board for spodumene. A railroad car load of spodumene was shipped from the Harding Mine. The men had to hand pick all of the spodumene crystals because the crystals are very thin and fragile and TNT would have blasted the crystals into fragments too small to recover.
In 1949 Flaudio Griego drove a tunnel towards the USGS exploratory hole #22 looking for beryl. He found a five foot thick section of pure beryl. The mine produced 100 tons of bryl from 1950-1958. All mining ceased in 1959.
In 1974-75 Arthur Montgomery retired from teaching and decided to donate the mine to the University of New Mexico. After a lot of legal issues, it literally took an act of Congress to transfer ownership to UNM. US Senator Pete Domenici created a bill giving the mine to UNM. President Jimmy Carter signed it into law On 30 October 1978. The mine serves to this day as a learning laboratory for many university earth science departments. Arthur Montgomery, a Life Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, passed away on December 31, 1999, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After a long, rewarding day, we were all ready to head back to our air conditioned vehicles.
Petroleum News in NM
By Jim Smith
Since production data is not due until 45 days after the close of the month, the most recent months’ production data is incomplete at this time. July 2013 data is in. NM gas wells produced 103,966,205 mcf of gas in July 2013. NM oil wells produced 8,070, 467 barrels of oil in July. The state of New Mexico is ranked 6th in oil production behind Texas, North Dakota, California, Alaska and Oklahoma. The average domestic crude oil first purchase price climbed $7.56 (8.0 percent) to $101.61 per barrel.
Application for Permits to Drill
64 applications for drilling permits were submitted in the month of September in NM. All but two applications were for drilling in Eddy or Lea County. The two exceptions were for a well to be drilled in Chaves County and another in Rio Arriba County, NM. Apache Corporation (Houston, TX) submitted 13 requests to drill 10 well in the Artesia field into the Yeso Formation and three in the Wantz field into the Abo formation. No planned spud dates were included. CML Exploration (Austin, TX) submitted one application to drill a 13,000’ well in the SANMAL field for Pennsylvanian oil in the Strawn formation. COG Operating LLC (Midland, TX) applied for 16 permits. Three are wildcat wells, one into the Delaware formation, and the other two into the Bone Springs formation . They also applied for permits to drill in the Hay Hollow (2-Bone Springs formation), Loco Hills, (3 -Yeso Formation), Penasco Draw (3-Yeso Formation), Atoka (1-Yeso Formation), Delaware River Field (3-Bone Springs Formation), Dayton;Grayburg (1-Bone Springs Formation). Devon Energy Production Co (Oklahoma City, OK) applied for permits to drill three wells in Eddy CO, 2 SWD Devonian wells and one in the Avalon Field into the second Bone Springs Sand. Linn Operating Inc (Houston, TX) applied for five permits to drill 5000’ wells in Eddy Counties Grayburg Jackson Field into the Grayburg Formation. Logos Operating LLC (Santa Fe, NM) applied for a permit to drill a well in Rio Arriba County in Counselors Gallup Field for a Dakota Formation pay zone. Mack Energy (Artesia, NM) applied for a permit to drill a 3500’ wildcat in in Chaves County into the San Andres Formation. Mewbourne Oil and Gas Inc (Tyler, TX) applied for a permit to drill one well in Lea County’s Young Field into the Bone Springs formation. Murchison Oil and Gas Inc (Plano, TX) applied for permits to drill 4 wells in the Triple X field into the Bone Springs formation. OXY USA WTP Limited Partnership (Houston, TX) applied for permits to drill 10- 5500’ wells in the Empire Field into the Yeso formation. Yates Petroleum Corp (Artesia, NM) applied for permits to drill nine wells, one in the Atoka Field (Yeso Formation) and the remainder in the Berry and 3rd Bone Spring Sand fields for 3rd Bone Springs Formation wells.
Spud Data for NM well in Sep 2013
Twenty-nine wells were spudded-in during the month of September. Apache drilled seven in Lea County and 11 in Eddy County. Cimarex drilled one well in Lea County. COG Operating drilled three in Lea and three in Eddy County. Legend Natural Gas Limited Partnership drilled one well in Eddy Count. Mack Energy Corp drilled two wells in Eddy County and Murchison Oil and Gas drilled one well in Lea County.
Mining News in NM
By Jim Smith
Santa Fe Gold Corporation is in the initial stages of the permitting process for their Ortiz Gold Project. The company desires to mine gold, copper and other minerals. The Ortiz Gold Project consists of 57,267 acres of the Ortiz Mine Grant in Santa Fe County, New Mexico.
According to Santa Fe Gold Corporation’s website, http://santafegoldcorp.com/home/node/10
“Measured and Indicated Resources contained in the Carche and Lucas deposits total 0.973 million ounces of gold and 18,416 tonnes (40.6Mlb) of copper. In addition, Inferred Resources total 62,700 ounces of gold. The Carache resource is estimated as 11.7 million tonnes grading 1.58g/t gold. The Lukas gold-copper resource is lower grade, estimated as 13 million tonnes at 0.91g/t gold, however with a very low stripping ratio. The resource report noted that significant exploration upside exists on Carache and Lukas deposits, as well as on other prospects within the project area which have existing historic resource estimates.”
The Company is reaching out to the villages of Golden, Madrid and Cerrillos, in order to solicit their input on mining development. As could be expected, environmental groups in the area are very concerned about ground water pollutants, overuse of groundwater and the scars left by open pit mining. The company plans on using gravity and flotation techniques alone, avoiding chemical leaching and minimizing environmental impact for gold recovery. Water also is a sensitive issue, and the development plan proposes to employ a dry stacking system for the tailings and thereby reduce water usage by about two-thirds. The website did not explain the techniques they would use to recover copper. The environmental groups are concerned that the newly approved New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission amendments to the New Mexico Environment Department’s Copper Rules would allow Santa Fe Gold to pollute the ground water. Santa Fe Gold stated that “environmental baseline studies were initiated in January 2013 and in July 2013 a Sampling and Analysis Plan was submitted to the NM Mining and Minerals Division.”
According to Santa Fe Gold, the company “has a lease agreement with Ortiz Mines, Inc which gives them exclusive rights for exploration, development and mining of gold, silver, copper and other minerals on the Ortiz Mine Grant. The initial term of the lease extends until 2015 and continues year-to-year thereafter for so long as gold or other leased minerals are produced in commercial quantities. The agreement provides for annual lease payments of US$130,000; a sliding-scale production royalty varying from 3% to 5% depending on the price of gold; the requirement that Santa Fe comply with governmental permitting and other regulations; and other terms common in mining leases of this type.”
Geologist Stephen Maynard described geology of the area in a NMGS Guidebook. “The Ortiz gold mineralization is associated with late stages of alkaline magmatism about 28 Ma along the Tijeras-Cañoncito. The Carache Canyon gold deposit is mostly contained in open-space fractures around a Breccia Pipe. The breccia pipe formed in the Mancos Shale and Mesa Verde Group sediments that had been intruded by sills of andesite porphyry. Free gold with spalerite, chalcopyrite, galena, pyrrhotite, pyrite, adularia and calcite occurs in the open space, Maynard also describes the Lukas Canyon deposit as a copper-gold, garent-pyroxene skarn developed in the Greenhorn member of the Mancos Formation.
Source: Maynard, S.R., 1995, Gold Mineralization Associate with Mid-Tertiary Magmatism and Tectonism, Ortiz Mountains, Santa Fe County, NM, NMGS Guidebook, 46th Field Conference, Geology of Santa Fe, 1995.
Hydrogeology News in NM
By Jim Smith
On September 10, 2013, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) approved modifications to the New Mexico Environment Department’s Copper Rules. The final vote was 9-1. According to a news release by the New Mexico Environmental Department the newly approved Copper Rules accomplish the following:
· Provides stringent design features for new mining facilities and for expansions of existing mining facilities.
· Provides new criteria for closing a mine, including re-grading land and installing ground cover to minimize infiltration of precipitation into and through mined materials that might otherwise reach ground water.
· Imposes new engineering design requirements for waste rock and leach stockpiles, and impoundments; and requires specific design technology for impoundments, tanks and pipelines.
· Provides continued protection to drinking water supplies. (Copper mining in the Silver City area has not had any adverse impacts on the area’s water quality.)
· Provides clear, transparent, and consistent rules that will allow for regulatory certainty, which allows mining companies to invest in future operations in New Mexico. (The copper industry contributes approximately $330 million per year to the New Mexico economy and employs over 1,500 full time workers and over 300 contractors in southwestern New Mexico. 1
Environmentalists counter that the new rules allow the mining industry to pollute our valuable groundwater resources rather than prevent pollution at mining operations as required under the State Water Quality Act. Groundwater in NM is a public resource and is therefore managed by the state. Groundwater protection is based on being needed for drinking water and agricultural purposes.
In the past, copper mining companies were required to ask for a variance to the Water Quality Act, to allow pollution above state water standards. Freeport-McMoRan has received two of those variances recently for waste piles leaching into mine pits. The variances had to be approved by the Water Quality Control Commission. The old process gave the public an opportunity to voice their concerns before approval/denial of the variance. Only two variances have been granted in the past and neither were protested. The new rules essentially preapprove what the state had already been doing for years with regards discharge permits allowing a certain amount of pollutants into the groundwater. On October 9, 2013, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed a Notice of Appeal. 2