A Geophysical Investigation at Potrillo Maar

Manuel Moncada Gutierrez, University of Texas at El Paso


The Potrillo Volcanic Field (PVF) is a unique geological site located in Doña Ana County the southernmost part of New Mexico, and part of northern part of Chihuahua, Mexico. The main feature of the southern PVF is Potrillo Maar. This maar-volcano straddles the international boundary between United States and Mexico and lies within the southern part of the Rio Grande Rift. The Potrillo Maar was formed about 20,000 years ago in three major events that formed basalt lava flows and ejecta deposits that consist of crustal and mantle xenoliths. The purpose of this thesis is to determine the area of the maar-diatreme, the severely fractured rock created by the explosion where the crater was made, and to estimate the thickness of its basalt layers using gravity, magnetics, and resistivity tomography surveys. These Potential field methods also provided a better understanding of the shallower structures of the near diatreme. All the geophysical data was analyzed using the GM-SYS software package in order to create 2D cross section models to differentiate the diatreme, basalts and surrounding structures. Forward modeling has revealed a complex subsurface maar structure. Modeling of 2-D cross-sections requires bodies with very low negative susceptibilities adequately match observations and error. These negative susceptibilities suggest that part of this diatreme composed of pre-maar volcanic that are older than the latest geomagnetic reversal. The diatreme has a depth of 125 m in the deepest part of the sections. A basaltic feeder dike for the Potrillo maar was also imaged. The main dike is located in the center of the crater where three scoria cones are exposed at the surface. Other smaller dikes are located within the diatreme.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Moncada Gutierrez, Manuel, "A Geophysical Investigation at Potrillo Maar" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10254896.