Central-western New Meixco--An exploration frontier for oil and gas
— Lee A. Woodward and P. R. Grant


The vast region of central–western New Mexico cannot be discounted as a potentially petroliferous province until a substantial number of properly located wells is drilled. Extrapolating between outcrops and wells in nearby areas of New Mexico and Arizona suggests that more than 610 m of Cretaceous rocks and 1,220-1,530 m of Paleozoic sediments may be present beneath Tertiary rocks. Innovative seismic procedures and careful interpretation of the results may be imperative to the selection of locations that avoid thick Tertiary cover and structure influenced by intrusions.

The hydrocarbon potential of central–western New Mexico initially appears to be fairly low as only five wells out of a total of 42 drilled here had shows of oil and/or gas. However, all but two of these wells were drilled north of U.S. Highway 60 which bisects the region in an east–west direction and generally separates volcanic-covered terrain in the south from extensive outcrops of sedimentary rocks to the north. Although the volcanic rocks mask structures that might be present in underlying sedimentary strata, their presence does not condemn the oil and gas potential, as demonstrated by oil production beneath volcanics in the San Juan sag of south-central Colorado's San Luis Basin.

Source and reservoir beds for hydrocarbons are present in Pennsylvanian and Cretaceous strata, but the Pennsylvanian is absent from much of the area and the Cretaceous is exposed at the surface at many localities, with consequent likelihood of flushing of oil and gas by ground water. Lower Paleozoic source and reservoir rocks may be present in the subsurface in the southern part of the area. Cauldrons and associated shallow plutons in this area have probably destroyed hydrocarbons that might have been present near the volcanic centers, but thermal alteration is unlikely to have been deleterious a few thousand meters away from the centers. Several untested structures and stratigraphic pinchouts may provide potential hydrocarbon traps in this exploration frontier.

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Recommended Citation:

  1. Woodward, Lee A.; Grant, P. R., 1986, Central-western New Meixco--An exploration frontier for oil and gas, in: Truth or Consequences region, Clemons, R. E.; King, W. E.; Mack, G. H., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 37th Field Conference, pp. 307-314.

[see guidebook]