Environmental evaluation of New Mexico stream sediment chemistry using the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program data

Taisser Yakob Zumlot, University of Texas at El Paso


Lognormality of geochemical data is a fundamental principal in geochemistry. Recent studies challenge details of this concept, and data sets need to be reevaluated with these new ideas in mind. The present study is a part of such testing of traditional ideas; however it is also a stand alone study of the surface chemistry of a large region, the state of New Mexico. The environmental evaluation presented in this study is based on chemical analyses of stream sediments from the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) data set. The statewide database consists of 27,798 stream sediment sites. Twenty-four elements are selected which are Al, Ba, Ca, Ce, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, La, Li, Mg, Mn, Na, Nb, Ni, Pb, Sc, Sr, Th, Ti, U, V, and Zn. ^ Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistics and GIS techniques are applied to classify the elements and to identify geochemical signatures, either natural or anthropogenic, with the purpose of finding their sources. The elements are spatially analyzed by mapping their concentration distributions, anomalous element locations, and the factor scores that resulted, and these features are integrated as modified GIS theme layers, which are then compared with geologic maps, hydrologic basins, and mining districts maps. The study concludes that (1) the distribution of the elements in stream sediments in New Mexico shows that most of the variability is controlled by the bed rock chemistry. (2) Anthropogenic sources have local influence in the geochemistry of the stream sediments in New Mexico. (3) The mafic factor consists of Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Sc, Ti, V and Zn and it also clusters in the Rio Grande rift and Jemez lineament. (4) The REE factor consists of Ce, La and U, and it has strong, localized, clusters in the Organ Mountains, Boot Heel, San Andres Mountains and El Capitan Mountains. (5) Mineral exploration and contamination assessment are definitely feasible with the use of the NURE data set and the statistical analyses performed in this study. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Environmental|Geochemistry

Recommended Citation

Zumlot, Taisser Yakob, "Environmental evaluation of New Mexico stream sediment chemistry using the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program data" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3242126.