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J. Duane Gibson Sandia National Laboratories P.O. Box 5800, M.S. 0750 Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0750

ac1 1 1 1995

Recent geologic and geophysical investigations within the Albuquerque Basin have shed light on the potentially seismogenic sources that might affect Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico (SNLNM), a multi-disciplinary research and engineering facility of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). emphasizing those sources within approximately 8 kilometers (km) of the site. Several significant faults of the central Rio Grande rift transect SNLLNM. Although progress has been made on understanding the geometry and interactions of these faults, little is known of the timing of most recent movement or on recurrent intervals for these faults. Therefore, whether particular faults or fault sections have been active during the Holocene or even the late Pleistocene is undocumented. Although the overall subdued surface expression of many of these faults suggests that they have low to moderate slip rates, the proximity of these faults to critical (e.g, nuclear) and non-critical (e.g., high-occupancy, multistory officebght lab) facihties at SNLLNM requires their careful examination for evaluation of potential seismic hazard.


This paper presents a summary of potentially seismogenic sources for SNL/NM,

Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico (SNL/NM) (Fig. l), lies within the tectonically active Rio Grande rift, a major crustal feature that extends from northern Mexico through New Mexico into southern Colorado [l]. Included in the faults that cross or lie near SNL/NM (Table 1)is the TijerasCaiioncito fault zone (TCfz) with a total length of at least 93 km [2,3]. The exact role and extent of this structure in accommodating differential extension within the Albuquerque Basin is not well understood. Quaternary displacement on the TCfz has been largely strike-slip with differing vertical displacements along the trend of the fault. Normal, down-to-the-west faults that tectonically interact with the TCfz include the Sandia fault to the north and the Hubbell Springs fault to the south [4,5]. These faults as well as the Manzano fault (parallel and to the east of the Hubbell Springs fault), the Rio Grande fault [6] (parallel and to the west of the Sandia and Hubbell Springs faults), and the Coyote fault are

potential seismogenic sources for earthquakes within 8 km of SNL/NM. As is typical in the Rio Grande rift, large earthquakes on faults of concern for S N L N probably may have recurrence intervals of tens to hundreds of 3 , 7 ] .However, little or no thousands of years [ data are available on recurrence intervals or time since last movement for major faults on or near SNLLNM. Development of expected ground motion values from potential earthquakes is crucial for defining a suitable engineering design basis for critical facilities, such as nuclear research reactors in Technical Area 5 (TA-5) (Fig. 2), and for the 2,000+ structures that house the 10,000+, on-site S N L m and DOE personnel [SI. A comparable number of military and civilian personnel are employed by the United States Air Force (USAF)on Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB), such that over 20,000 personnel are headquartered on site.
This work was supnorfed by the United States Department o f Energy under C0nfr;c.t !X-P,C%-94A!J3''0.


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in electronic image products. Images are

Portions of this document may be illegible


produced from the best available original

Various federal regulations and guidelines govern the evaluation of seismic hazards at S N L N and the use of these evaluations in the design of facilities. Most buildings at S N L N

have been designed based on the requirements of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) [9]that were

in effect at the time of design of the building. The UBC has undergone numerous revisions over the past decades with progressively more stringent seismic requirements for New Mexico

and the Albuquerque area.


! i


w' (e?
3 '

i i







1 Albuquerque Basin
River Fault-hatchures side; dashed where inferred or buried Oilandgas exploration wells Fault segment boundary


d on downthrown


Fig. 1. Location Map of the Albuquerque Basin, showing SNL/NM (KAFB), the Cities of Albuquerque and Santa Feyand major regional faults. (Figure modified from [3], [6], and [lo].) Other federal seismic guidelines include those of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEW) [ll]. Presidential Executive Orders (e.g., Executive Order 12699) require that all federally owned or leased, new or existing buildings be brought into compliance with applicable seismic requirements. In addition, the DOE has issued Order 5480.28, Page 2

"Natural Phenomena Hazards Mitigation," effective January 15,1993, and related Standards 1020-1024 for integrating natural phenomena hazards into its facilities design. This Order and

associated Standards use a graded approach

where existing general building codes are acceptable for non-critical facilities, but sitespecific seismic hazard analyses are required for more critical facilities.

Table 1- Characteristics of Proximal Potentially Seismogenic Sources in the Vicinity of SNJL/NM.

Seismogenic Source1

Footnotes to table: 1 See Fig. 1 and text for location and explanation of faults, fault zones, tectonic features, and seismotectonic provinces. 2 A: Compelling evidence exists for reueated late Quaternary surface displacement (e.g., "active") B: Compelling evidence exists for Quaternary surface displacement, timing of most recent event unknown (e.g., "potentially active"). 3 Presumed potential surface rupture length based on availabledata and literature. "N/A" = not applicable. 4 A 60" average fault dip is assumed for normal faults; a 90" dip for strike-slip faults. 5 These references represent only a portion of the extensive literature available on the Albuquerque Basin. The listed references are considered particularly relevant for paleoseismic and seismic hazard studies. An arbitrary cut-off distance for this study of approximately 8 km (5 miles) follows the approach of DOE Standard 1022-94 [12]. Among other requirements, this standard requires detailed geological, geophysical, seismological, and geotechnical investigations of all faults within 8 km (5 miles) of a site with moderate or high hazard facilities. This study does not satisfy the detailed investigationsfor SNL/NM as required by [12], but represents an evaluation of the available data and tectonic models that may be pertinent to seismic hazard analysis. Significant additional site characterizationwork would be required to fulfill the DOE requirements for seismic hazard analysis at
An initial step in evaluating site-specific seismic hazards and establishinga basis for design requirements is identifyingpotential seismogenic sources for a site. As previously mentioned, S N L m lies within the Albuquerque Basin, a major component of the Rio Grande rift (Fig. 1).


The Albuquerque Basin has undergone several km of east-west extension, predominantly from normal faulting over the past approximately 30 to 40 million years [13]. Many faults within the basin are concave-upward listric faults that may merge into a basal extensional or detachment

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fault, The basin is surrounded by fault-bounded basement uplifts: the eastward-tilted SandiaManzano-Los Piiios Uplift on the eastern margin and the Ladron and Lucero uplifts on the southwestern basin border. Faults with the largest displacements occur several km basinward

from the range-front faults adjacent to the riftborder uplifts. Structural relief of the basin is OOOm, based on the vertical separation of over 10, Precambrian strata from the top of the eastern m a r g i n uplifts to the deepest portion of the basin.



464000 State Plane


Fig. 2 - Location map of KAFB, showing the location of various technical areas (e.g., TA-1, TA-5) of SNL/NM. Surface trace of faults near or on KAFB are indicated. Major roads on KAFE3 (e.g., Wyoming, Eubank) are also indicated. (Figure modified from [5]). Although the Albuquerque Basin appears as a single, continuous topographic basin, seismic reflection work and exploratory oil and gas wells indicate that it consists of two subbasins: a northern eastward-tilted half-graben and a southern westward-tilted half-graben [4]. The half-grabens are bordered by major Late Cenozoic faults along either the eastern or western margins, by distributed minor faulting along the opposite margin, and by complex transfer or accommodation zones. The TCfz may act as such as accommodation zone of the Albuquerque Basin (e.g., Reference [141). More detailed descriptions of the proximal, potentially

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seismogenic sources for SNL/NM are discussed below, in alphabetical order.


normal fault at the base of the Manzano Mountains [7] (Fig. 1). Movement along this

fault probably formed the precipitous range front

The north-south-trending Coyote fault [15,16] borders the northern two-thirds of the Manzanita Mountains (Figs. 1 and 2). The fault is exposed adjacent to Coyote Springs, near its intersection with the TCfz. The Coyote fault is north- to northwest-striking, down-to-thesouthwest, and steeply dipping with at least 400 m of documented throw [SI. The fault has an inferred total length of about 7.2 km and, locally as at Coyote Springs, controls ground-water flow. The fault is assumed to have had surface rupture during the Quaternary (Le., to be potentially active: Fault Class B on Table 1). A summary of the seismic-source parameters for the Coyote fault @included in Table 1.

of the Manzano Mountains, although Machette [7] found no evidence o f fault scarps developed in Holocene to middle Pleistocene deposits along the mountain front. The Manzano fault is marked by a wide zone in which early Miocene tuffaceous sedimentary rocks and andesite (as well as older rocks) are steeply rotated into fault contact with Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks. The Manzano fault probably begins south of Tijeras Arroyo, interacting in some manner with the Coyote fault, and extends about 54 km south to the Ab0 Pass area, where it may join the Los Piiios fault. Discrete fault segments have not been assigned to this fault. The seismic-source parameters assigned in Table 1 assume that the Manzano, Coyote, and Los Piiios faults are distinct seismogenic sources.


The approximately 55-km long, north-south trending, westward dipping Rio Grande fault is located several km basinward from the topographic high margin of the rift. This fault borders the deep, inner graben of the basin and exhibits the greatest amount of vertical separation of the base of rift-fill sediments [4,13]. The Rio Grande fault exhibits over 4,000 m of Cenozoic displacement and has played a major role in the development of the Albuquerque Basin. The fault underlies the Holocene inner valley of the Rio Grande [lo, 141.

The north-south-trending, westwarddipping Hubbell Springs fault lies along the southeastern margin of the Albuquerque Basin (Fig. 1). It is one of a series of faults that downdrop bedrock in the central portion of the rift as much as 10 km. The fault is continuous for about 58 km and is connected by a small graben to the TCfz (Fig. 2) on KAFB. As it crosses the southern boundary of KAFB, the Hubbell Springs fault has a strikingly linear trace with two distinct, parallel fault strands. It is aligned with a series of freshwater springs in the northem 29 km of its length. Fault scarps related to the Hubbell Springs fault are perhaps the most spectacular in this part of the Rio Grande rift [7] with a prominent 30 to 45 m scarp along the northern portion the fault. The fault scarp is sharply defined and is incised by east-west arroyos. Most recent movement on the fault was probably late Pleistocene to perhaps Holocene, Like several of the other faults in this divided into discrete fault segments that may be made.

study, the Hubbell Springs fault can probably be

have moved independently in the past. However, additional work is needed before this division can


The north-south trending, westwarddipping Manzano fault is a major rift-bounding

The structural block between the Rio Grande and Sandia faults (the latter described separately below) likely contains several downto-the-west normal faults that, with additional work, may come to be considered as distinct seismogenic sources. This block forms a structurally high suballuvial bench between the rift-flanking Sandia Mountains and the deep, inner half graben of the northern Albuquerque Basin [171. According to Chapin and Cather [13, this bench and others in the central Rio Grande rift may be a result of basin-ward migration of displacement. Considering that the Rio Grande fault is a main rift-bordering structure in.the Albuquerque Basin and that similar rift-margin structures to the north (e.g., the Pajarito, La Bajada and Sangre de Cristo faults) and to the south (e.g., the Coyote Springs-Santa Fe, Hubbell Springs, and La Jencia faults) exhibit evidence of

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Quaternary displacement, it is likely that the Rio Grande fault is an active Quaternary structure [3, 181. Assessment of late Quaternary displacement along this fault is hampered by the parallelism between the fault and numerous topographic scarps that may be terrace back-edges formed by the Rio Grande [3]. A few historical and welllocated contemporary earthquakes have been located near the Rio Grande fault [19], supporting an "active" classification for this fault in Table 1.

displacement, and have variable amounts and senses of separation along strike [2,16,20,22]. Lisenbee et al. [2] separated the TCfz into five sections on the basis of structural style, fault trace complexity, and sense and amount of separation. For ease of description and for purposes of seismic hazard assessment, Wong et al. [3] informally named these sections (from north to south) the Lamy, San Pedro/Ortiz, Monte Largo, Tijeras, and Four Hills segments (see Fig. 1). Wong et al.'s analysis of the TCfz extended central portion of KAFB, The possible extension of this fault zone further to the southwest is discussed under the Tijeras Accommodation Zone below. The vertical Tertiary-through-Quaternary offset along the zone is complex. The fault zone exhibits a "scissoring" type rotation [13] with general down-to-the-northwest net Tertiary through Quaternary displacement [14, 15,231. 2 ]and ConnoIIy et a Z . [24] note Lisenbee et aZ. [ that late-Quaternary colluvium is displaced along the fault in Tijeras Canyon. No other evidence of Quaternary activity is documented for other segments of the fault, although recent evidence for late Quaternary or possible even Holocene rupture has been investigated by J. Abbott [25] at a stream-bank exposure near Golden, New Mexico, that may be associated with the TCfz. Analysis of aerial photography shows the presence of a prominent tonal lineament along the Four Hills segment of the fault on and to the northeast of KAFJ3, which may be related to late of Albuquerque, the fault strongly influences near-surface ground-water conditions [5,10], and, thus, may have had late Quaternary displacement. No additional paleoseismic data are presently available for the TCfz. Seismicity that has occurred along and adjacent to the fault zone is poorly constrained [19].
Quaternary fault activity [2@. South of the City

dipping Sandia fault [16,20,21] lies at the range front of the Sandia Mountains to the east of the City of Albuquerque (Fig. 1). The fault is one of several, including the Rio Grande fault described above, that downdrop structural blocks to the west into the axis of the Albuquerque Basin. The fault extends northward from the southwest extension of the Four Hills Uplift (Manzano Area of Fig. 1) on KAFB, to the Placitas area of Sandoval County, a north-south distance of about 45 km (see Table 1). Evidence for this fault bounding the west side of the Four Hills Uplift part of the Sandia Mountains on KAFB is somewhat subjective. Geologically, a major fault should be present here in order to account for the structural relief between the deepest parts of the rift identified from well data and the top of the Sandia Mountains, a vertical offset of apparently more than 10 km.However, there is little prominent evidence of late Pleistocene movement on the parameters for the Sandia fault are found in Table 1. This fault is assumed to be "potentially active." The Sandia fault dips beneath many of the facilities of S N L N with an assumed dip angle of 60"W.

The north-south trending, westward-

only as far as the Travertine Hills in the west-

km)of left-lateral, post-Cretaceous offset [ZO].

The TCfz has had as much as 1.5 mi (2.4

fault on KAFB [SI. Details of seismic-source

As defined by previous researchers (e.g., Reference [2]), the 93+ km long TCfz trends north and northeast between the Travertine Hills of western KAFB and Caiioncito area of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, about 14 miles (mi) (9 km) southeast of Santa FeyNew Mexico [ 3 ] . Extension of this fault zone to the southwest is discussed below. The fault zone consists of several fault segments that have near-vertical dips, exhibit evidence of normal and left-lateral

The relationship of the TCfz to surrounding faults on SNL/NM (KAFB), such as the Sandia fault to the north and the Hubbell Springs fault to the south, has recently been refined (see Fig. 2) [5]. A small graben-like structure connects the northern end of the Hubbell Springs fault to the TCfz. Subsidence of the graben (and activity on the adjacent faults) has continued through late
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Pleistocene-Holocene(?) time. The structural connection between the Sandia and TijerasCaiioncito faults is more enigmatic because of the

relative inactivity of the Sandia fault.

Seismic source characteristics for the entire TCfz are presented in Table 1. All segments of the TCfz are assumed to have repeated late Quaternary surface rupture and are considered "active."

Zone, or a separate, but tectonically related feature. An additional uncertainty in the nature of the Tijeras Accommodation Zone is its possible interaction w i t h the Rio Grande fault near the center of the Albuquerque Basin. For the moment, the Tijeras Accommodation Zone is considered a separate potentially seismogenic source. Further work is required to characterize adequately this structure as a potentially seismogenic source. RIO GRANDE RIFT SEISMOTECTONIC

As previously mentioned, the Albuquerque Basin is composed to two distinct structural domains or sub-basins with opposing half-graben geometries [4,14,27,28]. Within the northern part of the basin, dips of units within the half-grabens are to the east, similar to the Sandia Mountains to the east of the City of Albuquerque. In the southern portion of the basin, dips within rotated structural blocks are dominantly to the west. In addition, extension across the northern subbasin is at least 17 percent while extension across the southern subbasin is as much as 30 percent [4]. Company and deep natural-gas test drillholes suggest that these two structural domains or subbasins are separated by a narrow zone of complex deformation [4]. This "accommodation" or "transfer" zone appears to follow the overall southwest to west-southwest trend of the TCfz previously described [1,27]. Whether the Tijeras Accommodation Zone is continuous with and an extension of the TCfz is not known. Until further work has been done, the relationship between these two features is equivocal. The two structures may intersect on the southwestern portion of KAFB. The nature of the TCfz changes with its intersection with the Hubbell Springs fault. The fault scarp associated with the TCfz at the Travertine Hills, immediately to the southwest of the Manzano Area on KAFB (see Fig. 2), is several meters higher than a parallel fault scarp found to the southwest along the southern fence of KAFB. Much of the deformation along the TCfz is believed to be transferred to the Hubbell Springs fault through a mapped graben structure that connects these two faults [5]. The fault to the southwest of the intersection of the TCfz and the Hubbell Springs faults may be a continuation of the TCfz, a surface expression of the Tijeras Accommodation

Seismic profiles obtained by Shell Oil

Seismic source zones are area sources that are defined by unique tectonic, geologic, and seismologic characteristics. Following the presentation of Wong et al. [3], the Rio Grande rift is considered to be one seismic source zone or seismotectonic province. The purpose of including the Rio Grande rift as a seismotectonic province in this evaluation is to address the potential hazard from background (random) earthquakes near SNLDJM. The background earthquake is defined as an event that occurs without an apparent association to a known or recognized tectonic feature, such as a fault. In the western U.S., the maximum magnitude for the background earthquake usually ranges between ML (Le., Richter Magnitude or local magnitude) 6 to 6.5 [29]. Depth for the background earthquake can be within the entire seismogenic zone, assumed to range from 2 to 15 km depth. In most regions of the western U.S.?events larger than ML 6.5 are usually accompmed by surface rupture and, thus, repeated events of this size will produce recognizable fault- or fold-related features at the earth's surface. Wong et al. [3] discuss specifics of the Rio Grande rift seismotectonic province. The largest historic earthquake in the Rio Grande rift was the 1918 ML 5.5 Cerrillos event [19], located northeast of the Sandia Mountains and not associated with any faults presented here.


Preliminary seismic source characteristics are presented for the eight known major faults or other potentially seismogenic features within 8 km of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Multiple faults and fault segments must be considered for these source terms since the timing of Quaternary movements on these faults is largely unknown.

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Therefore, whether particular faults or fault segments are active during the Holocene or even might be expected anywhere within the Rio Grande rift, is also considered in the evaluation. Numerous other faults occur within the central Rio Grande rift but are at greater distances @e., >8 km) itom the site. These more distal faults would be expected to produce lower strong ground motions at the site because of energy attenuation with distance. Further work on source-term input for seismic hazard studies at SNL/NM may include: 1) field investigations to determine timing of last movement and recurrent intervals on the various faults, 2) further work on fault segmentation for the TCfz as well as the other faults under study, 3) identification of additional faults that should be included in evaluating seismic hazards for the site, 4) use of the seismic-source characteristics presented here to determine potential earthquake magnitudes using empirical relationships (e.g., Reference [30]), and 5 ) application of attenuation relationships (e.g., Reference [31] to these potential earthquakes for SM/NM. The scope of this additional work on seismic-source characterization will depend on the needs of facilities managers and design engineers.

the late Pleistocene is equivocal. A background or "random" ML 6 to 6.5 earthquake, which

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Wong, I., K. Kelson, S. Olig, T. Kolbe, M. Hamphill-Haley, J. Bott, R. Green, H. Kanakari, J. Sawyer, W. Silva, C. Stark, C. Harden, C. Fenton, J. Unruh, J. Gardner, S. Reneau, and L. House (1995), Final Report. Seismic Hazards Evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratorv, February 24,1995, Woodward-Clyde Federal Services, Oakland, California (in three volumes). Russell, L. R. and Snelson, S. (1994), "Structure and Tectonics of the Albuquerque Basin Segment of the Rio Grande Rift: Insights from Reflection Seismic Data," in G. R. Keller and S. M Cather (eds.), Basins of the Rio Grande Rift: Structure. StratiPraDhv. and Tectonic Setting, Geological Society of America Special Paper 291, pp. 83-112. Sandia National Laboratories (1995), Wide Hvdrogeologic Characterization Program (SWHC). Calendar Year 1994 Annual Report. Sandia National Laboratories. Environmental Restoration Program, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hawley, J. W., C. S. Haase, and R. P. Lozinsky (1995), "An Underground View of the Albuquerque Basin," in C. T. Ortega-Klett, editor, Proceedings of the 39th Annual New Mexico Water Conference. The Water Future of Albuquerque and Middle Rio Grande Basin New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, Technical Report, Las Cruces, New Mexico, in press.
Y -



Discussions with Keith Kelson and Chris Hitchcock at William Lettis and Associates, Walnut Creek, California, were particularly beneficial in evaluating the lengths and locations of faults and fault segments as potential seismogenic sources. Additional review comments were provided by David Borns and Kathy Gaither of SNL/NM.



Chapin, C. E. and S. M. Cather (1994), "Tectonic Setting of the Axial Basins of the Northern and Central Rio Grande Rift," in G. R .Keller and S. M. Cather (eds.), Basins of the Rio Grande Rift: Structure, StratimaDhv. and Tectonic Setting, Geological Society'of America Special Paper 291, pp. 5-25. Lisenbee, A. L., L. A. Woodward, and J. R. Connolly (1979), "Tijeras-Caiioncito Fault



Machette, M. N. (1982), "Quaternary and Pliocene Faults in the La Jencia and Southern Part of the Albuquerque-Belen Basins, New Mexico: Evidence of Fault History from Fault-scarp Morphology and Quaternary Geology," New Mexico Geological Societv. Guidebook 33, pp. 161-169. Gibson, J. D., J. Milloy, D. Jones, and M. Chavez (1995), "Ranking of Facilities by

System - A Major Zone of Recurrent


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"Thickness of the Syn-rift Santa Fe Group in the Albuquerque Basin and its Relation to Structural Style," in G. R. Keller and S. M. Cather (eds.), Basins of the Rio Grande Rift: Structure. StratimDhy. and Tectonic Setting, Geological Society of America Special Paper 291, pp. 113-123.

[lS] Kelson, K. I., and S. S. Olig (1995), "Estimated Rates of Quaternary Crustal Extension in the Rio Grande Rift, Northern New Mexico," Proceedings of the New Mexico GeoloPical Society. 1995 Fall Field Conference - Santa Feyin press.

and Building Seismic Safety Council,

[19] Sanford, A. R., K. H. Olsen, and J. H. Jaksha (1979), "Seismicity of the Rio Grande rift," in Riecker, R. E., ed., Rio Grande Rift: Tectonics and Magmatism, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp. 145-168. [20] Kelley, V. C., and Northrop, S. A. (1973, Geolom of Sandia Mountains and vicinity, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Memoir 29, 136 p.
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Department of Energy (1994), Natural Phenomena Hazards Site Characterization Criteria, DOE-STD-1022-94, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC, 41 p. Lozinsky, R. P., Hawley, J. W., and Love, D. W. (1991), GeoloFic Overview and Pliocene- Ou atern arv History of the Albuaueraue Basin. Central New Mexico, New -Mexico Bureau of Mines and Minerals Resources, Bulletin 137, pp. 157162. Lozinsky, R. P. (1988), Stratieaphv, Sedimentology. and Sand Petroloe of the Santa Fe Grow and me-Santa Fe Tertiary DeDosits in the Albuquerque Basin. central New Mexico, Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, 298 p. Manzanita and North Manzano Mountains, America Bulletin, vox 60, no. 7, pp. 11831212. Albuquerque Basin. New Mexico, New
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