The New Mexico Geological Society
banner arch

Annual Fall Field Conference
2014: Sacramento Mountains — September 24-27

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.

2014 Conference Overview:

trip route

The 65th annual Fall Field Conference of the New Mexico Geological Society is based in Alamogordo. The mountains and basins of south-central New Mexico contain excellent exposures of Paleozoic to Quaternary rocks, complex structure and hydrology, numerous mining districts, and spectacular scenery.  The guidebook contains research papers and minipapers on igneous geology, stratigraphy, paleontology, regional structure, geomorphology, speleology, hydrology, economic geology, and the fascinating human history of the region.

Day 1  
We will travel north from Alamogordo and examine volcanic stratigraphy at two stops near Three Rivers, followed by lunch in the tranquil Rio Bonito valley near Fort Stanton. The last stop is perched high on the flank of Sierra Blanca. A barbeque dinner will be served amongst the pines in Ruidoso.

Day 2
The trip ascends the southern Sacramento Mountains escarpment, with the first two stops examining Paleozoic rocks and structure near La Luz. Lunch will be at the spectacular Bluff Spring along the Rio Peñasco south of Cloudcroft. We return down the mountain to La Luz  to examine  the Alamogordo fault. The day will be complete with a banquet at Margo’s in Alamogordo.

Day 3
We will head south to the Orogrande mining district in the Jarilla Mountains to visit former gold and turquoise mines and see a working dry placer mining operation. You can choose to try your hand at gold panning, or go to Oliver Lee Memorial State park at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains escarpment, where you can hike into Dog Canyon or visit the restored ranch house.

Conference Organizers

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Pre-meeting: Registration* and ice-breaker dinner**
6:00-9:00 pm Registration, ice-breaker party and dinner at Casa de Suenos in Tularosa.
  * Publication sales will only occur on this first night.
** A full dinner will be served this year!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Day 1: Alamogordo to Three Rivers, Carrizozo, Nogal, Ruidoso, and Sierra Blanca
6:00-7:00 am Breakfast (not provided).
7:30 am Van caravan departs from Otero County Fairgrounds parking lot
1:00 pm Lunch in the Rio Bonito valley
6:00 pm Barbeque dinner outdoors at Cedar Creek Campground
8:00 pm Return to Alamogordo
Friday, September 26, 2014
Day 2: Alamogordo to La Luz, Cloudcroft, and Bluff Spring
6:00-7:00 am Breakfast (not provided).
7:30 am Van caravan departs from Otero County Fairgrounds parking lot
1:00 pm Lunch at Bluff Spring
6:00 pm Return to Alamogordo
6:30 pm Banquet at Margo’s in Alamogordo
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Day 3: Alamogordo to Orogrande and Oliver Lee State Park
6:00-7:00 am Breakfast (not provided).
7:30 am Van caravan departs from Otero County Fairgrounds parking lot
11:30 am At stop 2, pick up lunches and group splits up.
Make a selection on REGISTRATION form.
— Group 1: Gold panning at Nannie Baird mine.
— Group 2: Visit Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.
3:00 pm Return to Alamogordo


Online registration will be available in early August. You can also register by phone and by mail. Registration is limited to 150 persons, so sign up early.


The icebreaker will be at Casa de Suenos in Tularosa, featuring a full dinner. There are numerous hotels and motels in Alamogordo — Participants are responsible for making their own lodging reservations.


Lunches, snacks, and beverages will be provided during the three days of the conference and the icebreaker dinner, barbeque dinner, banquet are also included in the registration charge. Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts. Registration is limited to 150 people, so get your spot now!


The trip will start and end every day at the Otero County Fairgrounds parking lot in Alamogordo, where you will leave your personal vehicle. For all three days the conference will be traveling in passenger van caravans.



The guidebook for the conference, included with registration, contains 4 detailed road logs, 17 research articles, and 22 mini-papers, covering many aspects of the geology and history of the Sacramento Mountains region. Papers from the new guidebook are now available online for current members.

Future Conferences:

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

Call For Papers

The 2015 NMGS Fall Field Conference will lead participants on a journey through geologic time as exposed in and around Las Vegas, NM. 

2015 route
2015 Field Conference Route (PDF version available)

Day 1 will take participants to view Proterozoic rock types and structural relationships within the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ Las Vegas Range.  The group will then travel from Mineral Hill to Johnson’s Mesa and the upper Gallinas Canyon to look at Paleo- and Mesoproterozoic plutonic and metamorphic rocks.  Leaders will share geochronologic, structural, and igneous geochemistry data that shed new light on the Proterozoic tectonomagmatic history of the region.  Participants will have the opportunity to look at a variety of igneous intrusive relationships, discuss the timing of plutonism relative to deformation, and consider the tectonic setting of ca. 1.4 Ga granite magmatism.  The afternoon will include a visit to the Great Unconformity and end with a barbeque at the United World College (tentative) in the town of Montezuma.

Day 2 will focus on the geology Las Vegas basin.  Leaders will guide participants through the local stratigraphy and Paleozoic-Mesozoic-Cenozoic structural development of the region.  Discussions may include the oil and natural gas resource potential in the basin. Lunch will be enjoyed at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge where leaders will share the geology of the Wind River Ranch, the Turkey Mountains, and the Fort Union region.  The group will visit select volcanoes and volcanic features of the Mora-Ocate volcanic field and contemplate its petrologic evolution.   Leaders will coordinate an afternoon stop at Fort Union National Monument.  Participants will regroup in Las Vegas for the annual banquet at the Historic Plaza Hotel and Event Center.

Day 3 will consider the hydrostratigraphy and water budget of the Las Vegas region.  The day will begin at Storrie Lake where guest speakers will discuss the history of the Storrie Project and water management issues for the high desert town of Las Vegas.  Participants will visit several localities along the Storrie Project conveyance system ending at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge for additional discussions of water management problems (better supply, additional storage, and more efficient conveyance) and proposed solutions.  The day’s discussion will undoubtedly include the factors that influenced the remarkable September 2013 flood of the Gallinas River.


2016: Geology of the Belen Area

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.


This site is hosted by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources