PointofInterestRoadSigns.com - El Malpais National Monument - El Malpais: A Changing Land


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El Malpais National Monument - El Malpais: A Changing Land


Location of sign - On the trail to Sandstone Bluffs in El Malpais National Monument


Photo taken- February 2010


El Malpais National Monument - El Malpais: A Changing Land


Text of sign:


El Malpais: A Changing Land


The lava flows of El Malpais are unmistakable evidence of the powerful forces that shape the earth.  They remind us that the earth

is not static, but continually changing.  


El Malpais, meaning "the badlands," was created by multiple volcanic eruptions spanning over 100,000 years.  These eruptions

formed cinder cones and shield volcanoes that you can see scattered in the distance.  Over many years, the molten lava filled the 

valley below and shaped new features.  The lava flows themselves are not immune to change.  Wind, rain and freezing water sculpt

the hardened lava while vegetation slowly conceals the flows.

The lava flows provide excellent exploring opportunities both above and below ground.  Rugged scenery, ancient routes and lava

tube caves are a few of the features awaiting your exploration.


Although the McCartys flow (left) is about 3000 years old, it is still very young in geologic terms.  At one time, it was unvegetated 

like the flow on Kilauea in Hawaii (right) that is just days old.


Old Volcanoes and Ancient Rocks


The volcanic eruptions of El Malpais are only one chapter in the geologic history of the area.  To the west is the Chain of Craters, a

string of thirty volcanoes ranging in age from 110,000 to 200,000 years old.  To the northeast is Mt. Taylor, a composite volcano

active about 3.5 million years ago.  The sandstone beneath your feet reveals an even older story.  Formed by the deposits from 

shallow seas that periodically covered this area 63 to 138 million years ago, these sandstone bluffs were carved by millions of years

of erosion.


At 3.5 million year old, Mt. Taylor - the volcano in the background - seems young when compared with the 135 million year old 

sandstone in the foreground.


Graphics on the sign


In addition to the text there is a picture lava flows and sandstone with Mt. Taylor in the background.


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