The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 40 Number 1: 3-6 - January 1978

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Geologic History of the Guadalupe Mountains Region
Harvey R. DuChene


Ogle Cave, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, is developed in the (Permian) Capitan Reef complex. The origin of this and other caverns in the area is related to the tectonic history of the region. Events ranging in age from Precambrian to Tertiary influenced the location of structural and sedimentary features that directly affected the location and growth of the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains.

The Guadalupe Mountains are part of a north-northwest trending group of fault block uplifts and basins bordered on the northeast by the continental craton and on the southwest by the Sierra Madre Oriental orogenic belt. Orogenies in Precambrian, Pennsylvanian, and Tertiary time influenced structure in the area.

Precambrian orogeny caused development of a regional, northwest-trending structural grain, which influenced Pennsylvanian diastrophism and sedimentation. Monoclines developed along old zones of weakness in response to Pennsylvanian sedimentation. These monoclines appear to establish the margins of the western part of the [Permian] Delaware basin. The monoclines may also have helped to localize reef-building organisms by providing shallow platforms suitable for reef growth.

Tertiary deformation related to the development of the Sierra Madre Oriental orogenic belt in northern Mexico began in Late Cretaceous or Early Tertiary time and continued intermittantly until Late Teritary time. This episode began with regional arching of the Guadalupe area and culminated in block faulting. The Late Tertiary surge of diastrophism created the Basin and Range structural elements of the Guadalupe Region.

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