Phanerozoic geologic evolution of the Albuquerque area
— Frank J. Pazzaglia, Lee A. Woodward, Spencer G. Lucas, Orin I. Anderson, Karl W. Wegmann, and John W. Estep


Global changes at geologic time scales are well-expressed in the geology and landforms of the Albuquerque area. Albuquerque lies in one of the few continental rifts worldwide, and it is near the juxtaposition of four major physiographic provinces. This unique setting, coupled with outstanding and nearly complete exposures of Phanerozoic rocks, make the Albuquerque area well-suited to unraveling the Phanerozoic geologic history of north-central New Mexico. The Proterozoic assembly of North America sets the stage for later geologic events by imposing both northeast- and northwest-trending structural grains in the crust. North-central New Mexico stood relatively high during the early Paleozoic, but beginning in the Mississippian the Albuquerque area was the site of nearly continuous sedimentary deposition reflecting both proximal and distal tectonic events. The major orogenies/deformational events to affect the Albuquerque area were the ancestral Rocky Mountain orogeny (Pennsylvanian Early Permian), the Laramide orogeny (Late Cretaceous–Eocene), and Basin and Range extension leading to formation of the Rio Grande rift (Neogene–Quaternary). In additional to these orogenic events, there have been several periods of volcanism as well as epeirogen deformation, including late Cenozoic uplift of the southern Rocky Mountains. Our reconstruction of the geology of the Albuquerque area has identified several unanswered questions that are addressed by separate papers in this guidebook. These questions include revisiting the amount of dextral offset in the rift produced during the Laramide orogeny, the degree of rift-flank uplift that could be attributed to the flexural isostatic response of footwall unloading, and understanding syn-rift stratigaphy in terms of its hydrologic resources.

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Recommended Citation:

  1. Pazzaglia, Frank J.; Woodward, Lee A.; Lucas, Spencer G.; Anderson, Orin I.; Wegmann, Karl W.; Estep, John W., 1999, Phanerozoic geologic evolution of the Albuquerque area, in: Albuquerque Country, Pazzaglia, Frank J.; Lucas, S. G.; Austin, G. S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 50th Field Conference, pp. 97-114.

[see guidebook]