The Laguna Plata Site Revisited: Current Testing and Analysis of New and Existing Assemblages at LA 5148, Lea County, New Mexico


This document, published by TRC Environmental, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico under contract with the Bureau of Land Management, Carlsbad Field Office, carried out the required archaeological and geomorphologic investigations at LA 5148, Lea County, New Mexico, as well as an analysis of existing artifact collections from the same site. Under the Bureau of Land Management’s Permian Basin Mitigation Program, TRC carried out Task Order 05 with the goal of providing a more comprehensive interpretative assessment of prehistoric use at LA 5148.

Based on the significance of the sites reported in the vicinity, the area surrounding LA 5148 was designated a National Register Archaeological District in 1989 and added to the State Register in 1990 (HPD#1520). Positioned along the western margin of the Laguna Plata basin, LA 5148 is within the greater Laguna Plata Archaeological District, Lea County, New Mexico.

This proposed project fulfilled the responsibilities mandated under the Scope-of-Work issued on January 26, 2010 and awarded March 3, 2010. For this mitigation project, TRC documented cultural materials, and recovered significant archaeological data from the selected prehistoric site. Task Order 05 was conducted in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 36 CFR 800, and other relevant laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines and provides a critical tool in the future management of archaeological resources contained within this site. Subsequently, this information will contribute to the Bureau of Land Management’s Land Study and provide a valuable tool in the future management of federally owned lands within southeastern New Mexico.

The testing process carried out at LA 5148 consisted of a phased testing strategy that included site survey and documentation, geophysical survey, geoarchaeological testing, test excavations, and a 25-acre survey. The fieldwork commenced on April 20, 2010 and ended on April 27, 2010. The final site check was conducted on October 22, 2010. The results of each phase contributing to the subsequent one. Phase I documented the site through the point provenience of artifacts and features, identification of the LCAS datum, re-establishing the LCAS excavation grid and test units, and documenting the current site boundary. At the end of the first phase, a geophysical survey of the C-10-C locus and two additional survey blocks immediately north of the two-track access road was carried out. The geophysical survey employed three techniques: 1) ground penetrating radar with a 250 MHz radar, 2) magnetometer survey with a Geometrics G-858 cesium vapor magnetometer, and 3) ground conductivity profiler. The geo-referenced grid covered a 25 m x 20 m area that encompassed the primary LCAS excavation area (Runyan 1971). Anomalies identified on and near the presumed LCAS test units strengthened the data derived from the LCAS documentation (Runyan 1971). Geoarchaeological testing and evaluation followed immediately after the geophysical survey. Manual excavations of the LCAS 15-ft x 15-ft test units were conducted concurrent with the geoarchaeological testing with constant collaboration between the two groups. The fourth phase consisted of mechanical trenching of areas significant to understanding the geomorphology and contextual composite of the site and its environs. The final phase of the project included the pedestrian survey of 25 acres adjacent to LA 5148.

Forty-three features were documented, the majority of which were identified during the site survey phase (Phase I). Phase III of the testing strategy focused on the hand excavation of Features 2 and 3 identified by Runyan (1971) as irregular-shaped pithouses. The site survey identified Feature 6 exposed in an east-west trending arroyo cut. The subsurface testing phase resulted in 41.5 m² of manual excavation. Phase IV consisted of 80 m² of backhoe trenching involving eight linear trenches.

Phase V consisted of a pedestrian survey of five 5-acre parcels. Parcel 1 was immediately northeast of the C-10-C locus, just north of the site boundary. Parcels 2 and 3 were combined to form a 10-acre rectangle. This parcel was within and outside of the west-central portion of the site. Parcels 4 and 5 were placed along the southeastern margin of the basin in an effort to identify the soil deposits associated with the spring activity and assess the depositional history of this portion of the basin interior.

Cite this Record

The Laguna Plata Site Revisited: Current Testing and Analysis of New and Existing Assemblages at LA 5148, Lea County, New Mexico. Kenneth Brown, Marie E. Brown, Benjamin G. Bury, Peter C. Condon, Richard Doucett, Jeffrey R. Ferguson, Charles D. Frederick, Michael D. Glascock, Martha Graham, Richard G. Holloway, David A. Hyndman, Melissa K. Logan, Linda Perry, J. Michael Quigg, M. Steven Schackley, Regge Wiseman, Adriana Romero, Barbara M. Winsborough, Kenneth Brown. 2010 ( tDAR id: 378476) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8NV9HZ5

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.208; min lat: 32.303 ; max long: -103.28; max lat: 32.813 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Carlsbad Field Office, Bureau of Land Management

Contributor(s): Spencer Larson

Principal Investigator(s): Howard C. Higgins

Sponsor(s): Bureau of Land Management, Carlsbad Field Office, New Mexico

Repository(s): Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe

Prepared By(s): TRC Environmental, Inc.

Record Identifiers

BLM Permit No.(s): 45-2920-09-TT

Permian Basin Mitigation Program Task Order(s): 05

ARPA Permit No.(s): 45-8152-10-30


Redaction Note: Access to redacted/confidential information can be granted by contacting: Bureau of Land Management, Carlsbad Field Office 620 E. Greene St. Carlsbad, NM 88220 (575) 234-5972

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
laguna-plata-redacted-report.pdf 20.29mb Feb 4, 2013 3:33:54 PM Public
laguna-plata-complete-report-confidential.pdf 23.38mb Feb 4, 2013 3:34:03 PM Confidential