Tectonic framework of northeastern New Mexico and adjacent parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas
— Lee A. Woodward


Northeastern New Mexico straddles the join between the craton and the Rocky Mountain foreland province. Principal tectonic features are the Sangre de Cristo uplift, Raton Basin, Sierra Grande arch, Apishapa arch and Dalhart basin; Cenozoic igneous centers are superimposed on these tectonic elements. During the Phanerozoic, two major episodes of strong deformation interrupted long intervals of slow epeirogenic subsidence and uplift.

Late Paleozoic intracratonic block uplifts and basins include the Sierra Grande and Apishapa uplifts and the Dalhart and Rowe-Mora basins that formed during the Ouachita-Marathon orogeny, presumably as a result of collision of North America with South America-Africa. Laramide (latest Cretaceous-early Tertiary) compressional deformation resulted in rise and eastward yielding of the Sangre de Cristo uplift along thrust and reverse faults as the Raton Basin accumulated synorogenic sediments; the Apishapa and Sierra Grande arches were reactivated along with some basement faults of the Texas Panhandle. Laramide deformation was related to subduction along the western margin of North America.

Spanish Peaks alkalic igneous rocks were emplaced during the middle Cenozoic, and upper Cenozoic mafic and intermediate volcanic centers occur across the Raton Basin and Sierra Grande and Apishapa arches. Epeirogenic warping and normal faulting in the late Cenozoic may have been related to development of the Rio Grande rift.

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Recommended Citation:

  1. Woodward, Lee A., 1987, Tectonic framework of northeastern New Mexico and adjacent parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, in: Northeastern New Mexico, Lucas, S. G.; Hunt, A. P., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 38th Field Conference, pp. 67-71. https://doi.org/10.56577/FFC-38.67

[see guidebook]