Mineral deposits in Eddy County, New Mexico, and their relationship to karst processes
Virginia T. McLemore
Mineral deposits in Eddy County are commonly hosted in voids present in carbonate rocks. The first reported commercial mining in Eddy County was of bat guano from Carlsbad Cavern in 1904. Since then, more than $7 billion worth of mineral production has come from 3 types of deposits in 5 mining districts in Eddy County. Only one of these districts, Carlsbad
potash district, accounted for nearly all production from Eddy County. It is unlikely that the metal deposits in Eddy County will ever produce because of small size, low grade, remoteness from existing processing facilities, and location/proximity with National Forest and National Park lands. Currently only potash, salt, and aggregate pits (caliche, sand and gravel) are active, and production of these commodities is likely to continue in the future. Stable isotope studies by Hill (1995, 1996) and Lueth et al. (2005) suggest that H2S was likely derived from the biochemical reduction of sulfate from Permian evaporite sedimentary rocks, including the potash deposits in the Permian basin. The coincidence between the age determinations in Mississippi Valley-type and Rio Grande rift deposits in central New Mexico was likely a result of changes in elevation in the host rocks due to significant pulses of tectonic uplift during Rio Grande rifting.
- McLemore, Virginia T., 2006, Mineral deposits in Eddy County, New Mexico, and their relationship to karst processes, in: Caves and karst of southeastern New Mexico, Land, Lewis; Lueth, Virgil W.; Raatz, William; Boston, Penny; Love, David L., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 57th Field Conference, pp. 337-344.