Annual Fall Field Conference
2015: Geology of the Meadowlands,
Las Vegas Area — September 30th - October 3rd

Every fall since 1950, the Society has held a field conference to some part of New Mexico and, in some cases, to border states. From the beginning, the conference has been accompanied by a guidebook with detailed road logs as well as peer-reviewed papers relevant to the region. These guidebooks remain as invaluable references to the geology of the conference study area and most are available for purchase.

Widespread enthusiasm for the Fall Field Conferences has led to receipt of many proposals for future conferences. Therefore, the schedule of upcoming field conferences is now outlined for the next several years. The field conference venues and names of organizers are listed below. All members are encouraged to volunteer assistance to the organizers or to contribute to the guidebooks. If you live near or are involved with the geology in the vicinity of the future conference sites, please consider contacting one of the organizers.

2015 Conference: Las Vegas Area

The 66th annual New Mexico Geological Society's Fall Field Conference exemplifies the exceptionality, diversity, and accessibility of New Mexico's geology and showcases spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Mora River Valley, and the High Plains grasslands.

2015 route
2015 Field Conference Route
Sangre de Cristos

Day 1 includes a drive to the mountains to investigate Proterozoic igneous and metamorphic rocks, examine a variety of igneous intrusive relationships, and consider the tectonomagmatic history of the region.  The day also includes fossil-hunting stops within Pennsylvanian-Permian stratigraphic sections, laying hands on the Great Unconformity, and enjoying a barbeque on the grounds of the United World College-USA with an optional soak in the Montezuma hot springs.

Day 2 explores the stratigraphic and structural development and igneous intrusive rocks of the Las Vegas basin. Stops include the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge to discuss the geology of the Wind River Ranch, Turkey Mountains, and Fort Union areas.  The route ends with a visit to Fort Union National Monument to view remnants of the Southwest's largest frontier fort and ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. 

Day 3 investigates the hydrostratigraphy and water budget of the Las Vegas region.  The route includes a visit to the Las Vegas water treatment plant then traverses the Storrie Project conveyance system and ends at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge for a hike along the Gallinas Nature Trail.

Conference Organizers:
(NM Highlands University)

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, September 30
Pre-Conference Field Trip: Geology of the El Porvenir Trail
8:00 am – 4:00 pm: Hike a 2.5 mi transect (5 mi roundtrip) of the Hermit Peak pluton (starting elev. 7,520 ft with 700 ft gain) along El Porvenir Creek. Stops highlight pluton features (texture, structure) which shed light on its emplacement and deformation history. Trip convenes at the Plaza Hotel. Van transportation is provided. Participants are responsible for bringing their own lunch. Trip is limited to 20 participants.

Pre-Meeting Registration and Ice-Breaker*
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Registration and ice-breaker social at the Historic Plaza Hotel.
*Appetizers provided; dinner available for purchase.

Thursday, October 1 – Day 1: Mineral Hill, Johnson Mesa, Gallinas Canyon, Montezuma Hot Springs
7:30 am: Van caravan departs from Gene Torres Golf Course parking lot.
1:00 pm: Lunch on Johnson Mesa.
6:00 pm: Barbeque dinner outdoors at the United World College-USA in Montezuma.
8:00 pm: Return to Las Vegas.

Friday, October 2 – Day 2: Storrie Lake, Buena Vista Ranch, Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Union National Monument
7:30 am: Van caravan departs from Gene Torres Golf Course parking lot.
1:00 pm: Lunch at Rio Mora Wildlife Refuge.
6:00 pm: Return to Las Vegas.
6:30 pm: Banquet at Plaza Hotel Ballroom.

Saturday, October 2  – Day 3: Las Vegas Water Treatment Plant, Storrie Project, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge
7:30 am: Van caravan departs from Gene Torres Golf Course parking lot
12 noon: Lunch at Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge
3:00 pm: Return to Las Vegas.


Registration will be available in mid-August. Once registration opens, you can register online, by phone, and by mail. Registration is limited to 150 persons, so sign up early.


The icebreaker will be at the Historic Plaza Hotel, in Las Vegas, featuring appetizers starting at 6 pm. There are numerous hotels and motels in the Las Vegas area. Participants are responsible for making their own lodging reservations.There are rooms blocked at discounted rates at the following hotels:

  • Plaza Hotel (505-425-3591): Victorian (full or queen) @ $65; Victorian Double (full, queen, or king) @ $75; Premium King @ $85; Premium Double Victorian featuring 2 queen beds @ $95; and a Victorian Parlor Double @ $105.
  • Best Western (505-426-8000); 2 beds @ $79.99.
  • Holiday Inn Express (505-718-8168); 2 queen beds @ $89.99.

Please note that all rates are nightly; taxes not included.  Mention the New Mexico Geological Society to receive the conference rates. There are many other hotel options in town as well as a KOA in nearby Romeroville (76 County Road A25a; 505-454-0180).


Lunches, snacks, and beverages will be provided during the three days of the conference. Snacks and beverages at the icebreaker, and the meals at the barbeque dinner and banquet are also included in the registration charge. Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts.


For all three days, the conference will be traveling in passenger van caravans. The trip will start and end every day at the Gene Torres Golf Course at Highlands University (1 Country Club Drive) where participants will leave personal vehicles.  The registration fee includes the icebreaker mixer, barbeque dinner, and banquet dinner, as well as daily lunches, snacks, and beverages.  Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts.



The guidebook for the conference covers many aspects of the geology and history of the Las Vegas region and includes 3 detailed road logs, 3 supplemental trail logs, 12 research articles, and 28 minipapers. Papers from the new guidebook are will be available online for current members prior to the conference.

2015 Guidebook (full-version, soft cover) included with registration

2015 Roadlogs and minipapers only
(spiral bound, for sale at conference) ….. $25

Future Conferences:

2016: Geology of the Belen Area, September 14-17, 2016

Call For Papers (PDF version)


The 2016 NMGS Fall Field Conference will travel around the Belen area in central New Mexico. The pre-conference field trip will visit the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. Day 1 will focus on the east side of the Rio Grande with stops at Black Butte, Sais Quarry, and Estadio Canyon. Day 2 will be spent on the west side investigating the geology of Carrizo Arroyo and hydrology of Rios Puerco and San Jose. Day 3 will conclude the conference in the travertine quarry west of Belen. Highlights of this conference will include discussions of Precambrian tectonism, Laramide orogeny, Cenozoic stratigraphy and volcanics, industrial minerals, and paleo and modern hydrology.

Draft titles for minipapers and technical papers for the 2016 guidebook are due December 1, 2015, to co-organizers Shannon Williams (Amec Foster Wheeler), Bonnie Frey (NM Bureau of Geology), or Phil Miller (NM Bureau of Geology). Peer-reviewed technical papers are due February 15, 2016. Author instructions and reviewer forms are available at: We hope to include manuscripts covering all aspects of geology in and around the Belen area.


Shannon Williams,, 505-440-5306
Bonnie Frey,, 575-835-5160
Phil Miller,, 575-835-5487

If you have an idea for a future field conference, please contact the President of the NMGS.

Photos From Past Fall Field Conferences

Everyone is invited to share their best digital photos of past conferences with the rest of the Society membership. Please contact the society webmaster via the 'comments' link below.