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White Sands, Volcanoes and Lava Fields in New Mexico, USA

32.3N 106.4W

November 25th, 2010 Category: Deserts, Mountains, Rivers, Volcanoes

USA - November 8th, 2010

The Rio Grande flows almost vertically through the middle of this image of New Mexico, USA. Several interesting geographical features can be observed to the east of the river in the bottom half of the image, including lakes, sand dune fields, volcanoes and lava flows.

The large white patch rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin are the glistening white sands of New Mexico, most of which are protected as the White Sands National Monument. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world’s largest gypsum dune field.

The dark brown strip due north of the white sands is the Carrizozo volcanic field. This monogenetic volcanic field consists of two lava flows, the Broken Back flow and the Carrizozo lava flow, the second youngest in New Mexico. Both lava flows originated from groups of cinder cones. The Broken Back flow is approximately 16 km long and the Carrizozo, one of the largest in the world, is 68 km long, covering 328 km2 with a volume of 4.2 km3.

Across the ridge of mountains to the east of the sands and volcanic field is the Jornada del Muerto Volcano. It is lighter brown than the Carriozo volcanic field, circular in shape, and best observed in the full image. This small shield volcano and lava field in central New Mexico, about 10 by 15 miles (16 by 24 km) in size and reaching an elevation of 5,136 feet (1,565 m).

It is located at the northern end of the desert basin named the Jornada del Muerto basin, which runs between the Oscura and San Andres Mountains on the east, with the Caballo Mountains and the Fra Cristóbal Range on the west.

One Response to “White Sands, Volcanoes and Lava Fields in New Mexico, USA”

  1. 1
    cathy :

    So the plumes of white recently seen (March 23 2012) are either from the volcanic
    field or from White Sands testing area. Is the field showing signs of volcanic
    activity? Maybe some expert can answer.

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