Six seismic reflection profiles were collected in the vicinity of the Jornada Horst between Goat Mountain and Tortugas Mountain (northeast and east of Las Cruces, New Mexico) to delineate more precisely the geometry of the horst and to determine whether large, buried channels have been incised into the top of the horst. The Jornada fault zone separates the southern Jornada del Muerto ground-water basin from the Mesilla ground-water basin in the Mesilla drainage basin.
The upper part of the Jornada Horst is composed of Tertiary volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks; these rocks overlie Permian sedimentary rocks. The horst, in turn, is overlain by unconsolidated sediments of the upper Santa Fe Group. Some test holes indicate that little or no ground water flows from the Jornada del Muerto ground-water basin to the Mesilla ground-water basin over some portions of the horst. However, some ground water flows through the upper Santa Fe Group deposits above some portions of the horst. Ground-water flow immediately east of the horst near U.S. Highway 70 is deflected northward in the southern Jornada del Muerto ground-water basin presumably because of the change from higher hydraulic-conductivity values of aquifer materials in the southern basin to lower hydraulic-conductivity values of materials in the horst. Incised, buried channels, if present on the horst, could be filled with alluvial material with higher hydraulic- conductivity values than those of the material in the horst. Incised, buried channels would allow ground water to readily move from the Jornada del Muerto ground-water basin to the Mesilla ground-water basin.
The gross geometry of the horst--eastern extent, constraints on the western extent, and general altitude of the top--was discerned by interpretations of the seismic profiles. The presence or absence of large channels incised into the top of the horst could not be confirmed by these interpretations. However, the seismic interpretations suggest that the water table is above the top of the horst for most of its extent between U.S. Highway 70 and Tortugas Mountain and that the top of the horst is above the water table and acts as a subsurface flow barrier north of U.S. Highway 70.
Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4147
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