Taos Plateau Volcanic Field


Location: 36.6° N latitude, 105.8° W longitude, Taos County
Type: Tholeiitic sheet flows, scoria/spatter cones, and silicic shield volcanoes and domes
Age: ~4 million to 1.8 million years; includes some 22 million year old vents
Significance:

Largest volcanic field within the Rio Grande Rift and unusual silicic shield volcanoes



 

 

Geologic Overview

The Taos Volcanic Field is the largest volcanic field within the Rio Grande Rift. It is petrologically and volcanologically diverse, including compositions from tholeiite to rhyolite, and vent morphologies from cinder cones to steep-sided domical volcanoes. The field covers over 7,000 km2 and shares the broad valley floor with the Rio Grande which cuts through extensive sheets of thicks lavas, the Serviellta basalts, to form the Rio Grande Gorge. It is bounded on the east side by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and on the west by the Tusas Mountains. On the north it terminates near the Colorado border and on the south squeezes into the narrow constriction between the Taos basin and the Espanola basin. 

 

 

Photo: Dr. Larry Crumpler

The Taos Gorge. Photo taken by Dr. Larry Crumpler

 

 


View Taos Plateau Volcanic Field in a larger map

 

Additional Information:

 

Petrology/ General Geology:

Aoki, K., Petrography and petrochemistry of latest Pliocene olivine tholeiites of Taos area, northern New Mexico, USA, Contr. Min. Petrology, 14, 191-203, 1967. Basaltic Volcanism Study Project, Continental Rift Volcanism: Rio Grande Rift. in Baslatic Volcanism on the Terrestrial Planets, Pergamon Press, p. 109-131, 1981. Brookins, D. G., D. Eppler, and W. E. Elston, Sr isotope initial ratios from the San Antonio Mountain area, New Mexico, Isochron/West, 20, 17, 1977.
Burroughs, R. L., Neogene volcanism in the southern San Luis Basin. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 25th Field Conference, 291-294, 1974.

Butler, A. P., Tertiary Volcanic Stratigraphy of the Eastern Tusas Mountains, Southwest of the San Luis Valley, Colorado-New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society, 22nd Field Conference, 289-300, 1971.
Butler, A. P., Tertiary and Quaternary Geology of the Tusas-Res Piedras area, New Mexico. Unpub. Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 188p., 1946.
Eppler, D., The geology of the San Antonio Mountain area, Tre Piederas, Taos and Rio Arriba Counties, New Mexico, unpublished MS Thesis, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 77p., 1976.

Lambert, W. , Notes on the late Cenozoic Geology of the Taos-Questa Area, New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 17th Field Conference, 43-50, 1966.
Lipman, P. W., Alkalic and tholeiitic basaltic vlcanism related to the Rio Grande Depression, Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Geol. Soc. America Bulletin, 80, 1343-1354, 1969. Lipman, P. W. and H. H. Mehnert, The Taos Plateau volcanic fields, northern Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico. In Rio Grande Rift: Tectonics and Magmatism (R. E. Rieker. ed.) p. 289-312, Amer. geophys. Union, Washington, DC, 1979.
Lipman, P.W., and W. S. Baldridge, Taos, New Mexico. in Volcanoes of North America, C. A. Wood and J. Kienle , editors, Cambridge University Press, p. 290-292, 1990.
Mickelsen, M. B., History, Location and Devcelopment of the Johns- Manville Perlite Deposits, No Agua, New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society, 22nd Field Conference, 321, 1971. Naert, K.A, Geology, extrusion history, and analysis of perlites from No Agua, New Mexico, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, 223p., 1974.
Ozima, M., M. Kono, I. Kaneoka, H. Kinoshita, T. Nagata, E. E. Larson, and D. W. Strangway, Paleomagnetism and potassium-argon ages of some volcanic rocks from the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico, Jour. Geophys. Res., 72, 2615-2622, 1967.
Volcanology: (no modern studies)

 

  


All text and photo credit due to Dr. Larry Crumpler, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science


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