Oil Exploration and Archaeology in New Mexico



Rodger Moore

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Mar, 2017

Dear Rodger,

This a follow up to my recent call about ground surveys across the San Juan Basin. A couple years back my associate, Mike Cloud and I visited Chaco Canyon and were guided by John Stein through a tour of South Gap. At the time we were involved in a multi-year project conducting ground surveys in the southern half of the San Juan Basin. Working with the Navajo Nation Historical Preservation Department we have continued that work and have mapped portions of four Anasazi road segments crossing the southern basin. I recently published our results on the Kin Hochoi East Road in a special edition of KIVA. We also plan to publish results on the road connecting the Kin Bineola and Standing Rock communities. And it is our work on this specific road I wanted to communicate with you about.

Mike and I are painfully aware of the oil development going on in the northern basin. We can see new roads going in on Google Earth and we follow the news about new leases. We believe the only way we will have any chance of saving sites north of the canyon is to get them identified by ground survey. To that end we hope to spend this season extending our surveys to the north basin. Specifically, it should be known that the Standing Rock to Kin Bineola Road does not end at these communities. We have already defined the road to the northwest past Kin Bineola and it appears to be headed for the Pierre’s site. I have attached an unpublished version of our map which shows the numerous small structures and linear sherd scatters that mark the route. We expect to conduct surveys between Kin Bineola and Pierre’s starting this year.

The enclosed maps show sites with ceramics and linear sherd scatters. We think the alignment of these features define the road. Areas shaded in have been surveyed and extensive work has been done around the perimeter of the two great house communities. South of Standing Rock linear sherd scatters are fairly common and indicate that the road crosses Lobo Mesa. There is a gap where access is prevented because of the EPA uranium waste clean-up area. At the southern end of the mapping we found a particularly striking feature on White Rock Mesa. The sherd scatters lead up the slope to end at a structure mound near the cliff edge. Mapping along the base of the cliff we found only one site directly below the one on the top of the mesa and a linear sherd scatter tracing the road away to the southwest.

I am writing you for several reasons. If you have areas of greater concern that need surveying before more new oil roads or drilling pads damage undocumented resources, please let us know. We are hoping to supply you with detailed map data that can be held at Chaco. Our published maps typically are not that detailed to prevent them from being used to find and dig up sites. As an example, we do not plan to publish the attached map. By simply drawing a line from Kin Bineola to Pierre’s you can get an idea of where we will be mapping next. We think that once the road is defined, the park boundaries might be expanded to include the road and all archaeological sites between it and the canyon. This would incorporate many already known great houses like Padilla Well, Casa del Rio, and Lake Valley.

Mike and I are eager to hear your thoughts about these ideas. Please either send me an E mail at sdjhydronet@cruzio.com or send me any notes in the enclosed self-addressed envelope.


Stephen D. Janes M.A. Ph.D.

California State Professional Geologist 4411

Cc: John Stein