New Mexico


Geological State Symbols Across America  Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures

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New Mexico State Geological Symbols
Year Est.
State Gem
State Fossil

State Gem: Turquoise

Turquoise is a blue-green mineral made up of copper, aluminum, and hydrous phosphate (CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)). The name turquoise comes from the French expression for "Turkish Stone", illustrating that the early sources for European turquoise were from the Middle East. Turquoise has long been considered valuable and is one of the oldest known gemstones. It has been found in ancient Egyptian and Chinese archeological expeditions, showing that those people used turquoise as far back as 3,000 years ago. It is formed by the flowing of groundwater through copper deposits that eventually react with phosphate and aluminum minerals. Turquoise is also only found in arid (desert) environments because that is one of the few places that allows the groundwater to maintain a high enough copper concentration for long enough to interact with the other minerals. The result is a gemstone unlike traditional, gemstones like ruby or emerald, which is most commonly opaque. The opaqueness is due to the structure of turquoise, which is made up of many microcrystalline structures instead of one large mineral crystal. These microcrystals give the turquoise its appearance, either a mottled look or a smooth finish, which is due to the size of these microcrystals. It is also extremely soft and easy to carve. All of these attributes make it useful for many different purposes from jewelry to architectural adornments.


Related: Arizona State Gemstone - Turquoise; Nevada State Semi-Precious Gemstone - Turquoise

State Fossil: Coelophysis



Geology of New Mexico's National Parks

Through Pictures

(at least the one's I have been to)


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Visited in 2003


Carlsbad Housing

Housing at the Caves


Carlsbad Cave

Cave Entrance


Carlsbad Sign

Park Sign


Carlsbad Landscape

Surrounding Landscape

White Sands National Monument

Visited in 2004


The dune road


Veronica and I under a dune


White sand ripples

White Sand Ripples


White Sands Landscape

The landscape


My accomplishment (Yes that's me on the dune)


Wife on a dune

Veronica on a dune