Earth and Planetary Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



There are many domes in the vicinity of Queen Lake near the Pecos River in southern Eddy County. The rocks involved in the doming range in age from Permian to Recent. Their relationships indicate that there were two periods of doming, the first during early Pleistocene time and the second after the formation of Recent caliche.

Salt beds are present in the Salado and Castile formations beneath the area in which the domes are distributed. At Queen Lake the salt is within 300 feet of the surface. Farther east, the salt-bearing rocks are buried beneath Triassic and Cenozoic deposits. These thicken eastward and in places are up to 2000 feet in thickness.

During formation of the Pecos Valley in late Pliocene and early Pleistocene time, the differential in load distribution on the salt beds between the Pecos Valle and the area to the east increased with continued erosion. As it increased, so did the difference in compressive stresses. The present compressive stress differential between the salt in the vicinity of Queen Lake and the that in the area eastward is estimated to exceed 1200 psi. This is believed to be sufficient to cause flow of salt. Since earl Pleistocene time the thickness of the overburden in the vicinity of Queen Lake has been about the same.

The first period of doming in the Queen Lake area during the early Pleistocene was contemporaneous with the main phase of uplift of the Guadalupe Mountains to the west. Activity in each area was followed by a period of erosion. After formation of Recent caliche, doming recurred at Queen Lake. This may reflect the late Pleistocene recurrence of uplift in the mountains.

The parallelism of events in the two areas suggests that the Queen Lake domes are genetically related to late Cenozoic tectonic events. Eastward tilting of the Guadalupe Mountains may have introduced compressive stresses on the salt beds sufficient to accelerate the movement of salt into overlying beds.

Degree Name

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Vincent Cooper Kelley

Second Committee Member

J. Paul Fitzsimmons

Third Committee Member

Wolfgang Eugene Elston



Document Type


Included in

Geology Commons