The Pecos River Hypogene Speleogenetic Province: a Basin-Scale Karst Paradigm for Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, USA

Kevin W. Stafford, Alexander Klimchouk, Lewis Land, Marcus O. Gary

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Since the mid-Tertiary, lateral migration and entrenchment of the Pecos River Valley in eastern New Mexico and west Texas, USA, has significantly influenced regional groundwater flow paths, providing a focus for ascending flow in multi-storey artesian systems and a powerful potentiometric driving force for hypogene speleogenesis. Individual occurrences of hypogene karst phenomena associated with the central Pecos River Valley are widespread throughout the greater Delaware Basin region, including development in a wide range of Permian carbonate and evaporate fades. Hypogene occurrences are well-documented as far north as Santa Rosa, New Mexico and as far south as Lake Amistad, Texas. Throughout the northern shelf, intrastratal dissolution and brecciation of the San Andres formation is widespread as a result of eastward migration of the Pecos River. Proximal to the current river, hypogene dissolution in interbedded carbonate/evaporite facies of the Seven Rivers Formation has produced three-dimensional network caves and vertical collapse structures. In the carbonate reeffacies of the Guadalupe Mountains, complex three dimensional caves are common, as well as stepped terraces associated with eastward migration of thePecos River. Although these caves have been attributed to sulfuric acid dissolution, they are the result of hypogene speleogenesis in which solutional aggressivity was increased by the addition of both thermal and sulfuric-acid components. Within the interior of the Delaware Basin, hypogene karst in basin-filling evaporite facies of the Castile and Salado Formations is widespread, including development of large solution subsidence troughs associated with the lateral migration of the Pecos River. On the far eastern margin of the Delaware Basin, at the southeastern tip of the Central Basin Platform, persistent down cutting of the Pecos River Valley contributed to the development of hypogene karst within the Yates Petroleum Field, providing cavernous reservoir porosity for the largest individual oil field known within the Permian Basin region. Immediately below the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, the large first order magnitude spring, Goodenough Spring, flows from a deep phreatic cave under extreme artesian conditions, even as 45 meters of pressure head has been added over the spring from Amistad Reservoir.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalFaculty Publications
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

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