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Abstract

The Guadalupe and Delaware mountains of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico contain superb outcrops of the Capitan depositional system (Fig. 1). The Capitan depositional system as used here includes the reef/forereef of the Capitan Formation, shelfal equivalents (Seven Rivers, Yates and Tansill formations), and the basinal equivalent (Bell Canyon Formation) (King, 1948; Newell et al., 1953; Hayes, 1964) (Fig. 2). Exposures in the Guadalupe Mountains are immense (1000 m vertical; 5-10 km in dip direction; 70 km along strike), and have suffered minimal structural deformation. The Capitan depositional system of the Guadalupe Mountains has been visited and studied by many of the world’s premier geologists. In addition, it serves as one of the primary training grounds for earth scientists from the petroleum industry and academia. As a result, the Capitan depositional system has been the focus of numerous stratigraphic, facies, paleontologic, and diagenetic studies, many of which have become classic works in their respective fields. Many facets of the Capitan system have been and continue to be controversial, and much excellent geological research is still being done on the Capitan reef and related units.

An informal meeting of stratigraphers, sedimentologists, and paleontologists was held in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and the Guadalupe Mountains in October of 1996. This international conference was cosponsored by the University of Texas at Austin and Cambridge University in England. The purpose of the conference was to let Capitan researchers meet each other and to share

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