Resistivity and conductivity studies of the Rattlesnake Springs, New Mexico watershed

Claudia Santiago, University of Texas at El Paso


Rattlesnake Springs are a high-discharge artesian springs situated in the upper Black River Valley in southwestern Eddy Country, New Mexico. The aquifer that supplies the Rattlesnake Springs has been the main water source for domestic use by visitors of Carlsbad Caverns National Park and residents of neighboring ranches since the 1930s. Several geological studies relying on surface geology and limited water wells had previously been conducted in the area to examine the trend of ground water flow. In this study I used conductivity and resistivity geophysical techniques to identify possible locations of fractures in the subsurface of Rattlesnake Springs. My main focus was on the north-south trending structure that appears to form a barrier to groundwater flow located just east of the springs. We collected ground conductivity data at 10 meters spacing around the perimeter and easily accessible areas owned by the National Park and surrounding ranches. In addition, we conducted Schlumberger and Wenner vertical electrical sounding at 10 sites, primarily to investigate the depth of the conductivity anomalies, and a lateral resistivity survey across a suspected barrier to fluid flow. I was not able to identify fractures zones near the spring likely due to shallow investigation depth of my techniques; however, the conductivity and resistivity data indicate higher conductivities near, north, and west of the springs. The conductivity anomaly north of the spring is caused by decrease in grain size, while the anomalies near and west of the spring reflect moist soils. Resistivity surveys showed first layer that are thin (1 meter), because these are controlled by vegetation. The resistivity models and conductivity surveys can be further developed and refined if more geological or other geophysical information become available.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Santiago, Claudia, "Resistivity and conductivity studies of the Rattlesnake Springs, New Mexico watershed" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1473890.