Friday, May 7, 2010

A day near Mt. Taylor

I got to spend a day this last week near Mt. Taylor, a composite volcano north of Grants, NM. It was active approximately 3.3 to 1.5 million years ago, and overlies Cretaceous Interior Seaway sediments. The OF-GM-186 for the area is unavailable from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at this time, so its difficult for me to tell you which of the Cretaceous sediments are exposed in my photos, but I do assume they include the Mancos Shale in one of its forms.
Mt. Taylor is sacred to most of the Native American tribes and pueblos in the southwest and much of the surrounding mesa-tops and the mountain itself have recently been designated a traditional cultural property, requiring both tribal and State Historic Preservation Officer consultation for federalized projects.
This designation makes uranium exploration and development more complex on private, state and federal lands. The price of uranium has risen in the last few years, making extraction more economically feasible, but the cost of environmental evaluation, permitting, and consultation must be absorbed into development costs. Though exploration companies may balk at the process, it's the cost of doing business in the area.
As an aside, the uranium source is mostly in the Jurassic Morrison and Todilto formations (Grants Mineral Belt), which do not surface in the immediate area where I was (though there has been considerable exploration, mining and milling on the east side in the past).

Photo 1 is a dome/neck on the southeast side of Mt. Taylor, near Seboyeta.

Photo 2 is the scenic potty view through the junipers. Basalt-capped Chivato Mesa, with Cretaceous sediments below.

I don't have detailed geologic maps for the area (see above), but I'm presuming this is Pt. Lookout with Mancos below?

Looking south from atop the mesa.

Looking east, with the Sandias in the distance.

I used the below websites and the 1991 Field guide to geologic excursions in New Mexico and adjacent areas of Texas and Colorado (Bulletin 137, NMBMMR) as references.


Silver Fox said...

It looks rather Mancos like. One test would be to try to drive over it during some rains! :)

coconino said...

Yeah, no thanks! Driving in slimy mud is not my cup of tea!

Silver Fox said...

I don't really recommend driving through wet Mancos. The closest I came was when I pulled off I-70 on top of the San Rafael Swell one February(?) to try to find a camping spot. I found a spot I could back into, but realized that if it rained or snowed, my truck could be stuck there forever.

coconino said...

Good thing you had your head on straight that day. Losing your truck to Mancos is not a good thing. As an aside, the dirt road to the top of Chivato Mesa we took seemed to be pretty good, even through the Mancos section. I'm thinking the Mancos was pretty thin, there.

Silver Fox said...

I'm not sure exactly where I was that day, just that it was very muddy and yucky. I got a motel in Green River instead.

Quite a scenic place, Mt. Taylor and Chivalto Mesa.

coconino said...

Yes, it was quite spectacular. I'm looking forward to going back and checking out the area on my own. I'd like to go up onto Mt. Taylor itself. Funny, many of the people I know have not yet been up there, even tho they've lived in NM either all there lives or at least for years.