Permian Basin Salado Formation

Region West, Southwest
Mineral systems
Deposit types
Critical minerals
Other minerals

Information leading to the delineation of this focus area

Basis for focus area Area underlain by potash-bearing salt of the Permian Salado Formation.
Identified resources Identified resources and historical production of magnesium and potash.
Production >113 million short tons of potash produced between 1951 and 2018. The potash industry of New Mexico produces sylvite (KCl), langbeinite (K2SO42Mg(SO4)2) and artificial K2S04 (Barker and Austin, 1993).
Status Past mining and current production.
Estimated resources Carlsbad potash district has estimated 551 million tons reserves of potash.
Geologic maps New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (2003), scale 1:500,000; Barnes and others (1992a), scale 1:500,000.
Geophysical data Rank 3 and 4 aeromagnetic coverage; Rank 5 aeroradiometric coverage.
Favorable rocks and structures Salado Formation stratabound potash-bearing salt.
Deposits Active potash mines (2020): Intrepid East, Intrepid West, Mosiac, Mosaic Nash Draw.
Evidence from mineral occurrences Historical production from >10 mines 1950s-2010s (see Orris and others, 2014; McLemore, 2017; McLemore and Austin, 2017); district is currently producing.
Geochemical evidence The average sylvite ore grade in New Mexico decreased from 25-30% K20 in the 1950s to about 14% today; langbeinite ore now averages 8-10% K20 (Barker and Austin, 1993).
Geophysical evidence None.
Evidence from other sources None.
Comments Salt (NaCl) is produced from evaporation of water from the potash operations.
Cover thickness and description Depths of 800-1500 ft.
Authors Jane M. Hammarstrom, Virginia T. McLemore.
New data needs Examine petroleum and water well records for depths to top and base of Salado Formation.
Geologic mapping and modeling needs None requested at this time.
Geophysical survey and modeling needs None requested at this time.
Digital elevation data needs Buried resources; not needed.