Largest volcanic field within the Rio Grande rift and unusual silicic shield volcanoes
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 thick 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.
View across the Taos Plateau floor to the Ute Mountain volcano as seen from the east near the base of San Antonio volcano. The Sangre de Cristo range lies in the distance behind Ute Mountain. Photo L. Crumpler
Ute Mountain volcano as seen in an aerial view directed to the northwest. Photo L. Crumpler
Cerro de la Olla, an elongate andesitic shield volcano in the central Toas Plateau volcanic field. This view is directed east from Highway 285 just north of Tres Piedras. The Sangre de Cristo range at Taos lies in the distance. Photo L. Crumpler
Photo L. Crumpler
Classic "artist" view of the Taos Gorge. The hills in the distance are individual volcanoes of the Taos Plateau field. Photo L. Crumpler
View Taos Plateau Volcanic Field in a larger map
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
New Mexico Volcano Directory
A map of volcanoes and volcanic features around the state, with detailed discussion of each site.
Volcanoes of New Mexico
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