by Dr. Deborah Ragland

Saturday, April 6th, 2024 at 2:00 PM
Kit Carson Electric Board Room

Deborah A. Ragland, Ph.D.

Adjunct Instructor of Geology,
University of New Mexico – Taos

After growing up in Pennsylvania, Debbie moved to Texas to launch her academic career at the University of Texas, Austin. She finished work on a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Geology and Environmental Studies at UT, Purdue, Northern Illinois, and Oklahoma State Universities.

After completing her Ph.D., Debbie worked in Research and Development as a Senior Geologist and Consulting Geologist in the oil industry in Oklahoma and Texas. Facing another move to Texas, Debbie semi-retired and moved to Taos where, as luck would have it, UNM-Taos needed a Geology Instructor. Debbie has been an Adjunct Instructor of Geology at the UNM-Taos Campus for 20 years where she has taught introductory, advanced, and upper division geology and climate change classes. She has co-led geology field trips in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado and written geological guides for Grand Canyon and Arches National Parks.


The Geology of Taos County

We are so privileged to live in such a geologically diverse setting. The landscape we live in reflects only the most recent of billions of years of geological processes. Our rock record in Taos begins about 1.7 billion years ago. Small patches of ancient oceans and shorelines are preserved in rocks that suffered intense heat and pressure. What we see today are the metamorphosed remains of these ancient rocks some of which contain the ubiquitous quartzite pebbles and the sought-after staurolite crystals.

Although time is continuous, the rock record often is not. Such is the case in Taos County where the next significant rock exposure is nearly one billion years younger. Small exposures of Mississippian rocks record incursions of inland seas. The overlying Pennsylvanian Flechado Formation tells us a story of shallow seas, swampy coastal zones, and surrounding uplands. Here we find the remains of critters that lived in the seas, and plants that grew on the nearby shores and uplands.

Again, time slips by leaving another gap in the rock record. (Sorry – no dino bones for us!) During the mid-Cenozoic and after another period of mountain building, tectonic activity significantly changed the landscape in northern New Mexico. Magma pushed upwards from great depths causing the inception of the Rio Grande rift. Volcanoes formed on the surface as magma squeezed through faults. As rifting slowed, a paleo-river began cutting through the lava and sediments in the rift valley. Eventually, the present-day Rio Grande cut a path through the rift leaving us with the spectacular Rio Grande Gorge.

In the not-too-distant-past, Pleistocene glaciers sculpted the Sangre de Cristo Mountains leaving beautiful lakes, ridges, and peaks. Weathering and erosion continue as the cycle of geologic processes builds up the land, then tears it down in a never-ending cycle.

The Taos County Historical Society is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1952 and dedicated to the recording and preserving of the irreplaceable in Taos County.
Membership is open to anyone upon payment of dues.
For additional information on the programs, activities and history of Taos visit the Society's website at

The Society encourages support through membership.


2023 Winter
Issue #55

Browse the Ayer Y Hoy's Winter 2023 issue:

•Don Diego de VargasExpeditions to Taos
by Helen G. Blumenschein

• Marc Simmons - 1937-2023
by Dave Cordova

• Twin Taoseños In The Civil War
by D.F. Arguello

• From "The Taos Massacres"
by John Durand

• Why History Is Important
by Dave Cordova

2023 Summer
Issue #54

Browse the Ayer Y Hoy's Summer 2023 issue:

•San Geronimo Fiestas
"A Harvest Celebration"
by Rick Romancito

•William Thomas "Bill" Hinde -
Blacksmith of Taos
by Gene Cook Hall

•Santa Anna & Santiago
by Dr. Larry Torres

•The Street Names of Taos
by Dave Cordova

2022 Winter
Issue #53

Browse the Ayer Y Hoy's Winter 2022 issue:

•Kit Carson Road
Memories of the 30s & 40s
by Sadie Ortiz Knight & Benton Bond

• From Taos to Washington
Benigno Cardenas Hernandez
by Virginia Dodier

•Favorite Destinations
by Dave Cordova

•In Memorium
Eloy A. Jeantete 1928-2022

The Taos County Historical Society was formed in 1952 for the purpose of "... preserving the history of the Taos area...". It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Monthly meetings, the first Saturday of the month are held at Kit Carson Electric Boardroom with a featured speaker are open to the public and supported through memberships. These are also open to anyone upon payment of annual dues. For more information visit the Society's website,

Taos County Historical Society
has successully launched
"TAOS: A Topical History"

320 pages, 26 chapters and contributors.

Mil Gracias, A THOUSAND THANKS, does not begin to cover the many, many individuals to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. This debt is not only the living but also to those men and women who long ago began to preserve the journals and documents we now depend upon for knowledge of the past: the chroniclers who accompanied the explorers and settlers and who, dusty, tired and hungry, sat in the light of a candle to record in their journals the events of the day and the Franciscan clerics who made detailed reports of their canonical visits to the mission churches of Nuevo México.

Corina A. Santistevan
Acknowledgements in "Taos: A Topical History"

If you would like to order a copy from the
Taos County Historical Society
please send a check for $40 (book+shipping) payable to
Taos County Historical Society and mail to:

Taos County Historical Society
PO Box 2447
Taos, NM 87571

Email us

Phone: (575) 770-0681

PO Box 2447 • Taos, NM 87571