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Malpais National Monument - El Malpais: A Changing Land
of sign - On the trail to Sandstone Bluffs in El Malpais National
taken- February 2010
Malpais: A Changing Land
lava flows of El Malpais are unmistakable evidence of the powerful
forces that shape the earth. They remind us that the earth
not static, but continually changing.
Malpais, meaning "the badlands," was created by multiple
volcanic eruptions spanning over 100,000 years. These
cinder cones and shield volcanoes that you can see scattered in the
distance. Over many years, the molten lava filled the
below and shaped new features. The lava flows themselves are
not immune to change. Wind, rain and freezing water sculpt
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
caves are a few of the features awaiting your exploration.
the McCartys flow (left) is about 3000 years old, it is still very
young in geologic terms. At one time, it was unvegetated
the flow on Kilauea in Hawaii (right) that is just days old.
Volcanoes and Ancient Rocks
volcanic eruptions of El Malpais are only one chapter in the
geologic history of the area. To the west is the Chain of
of thirty volcanoes ranging in age from 110,000 to 200,000 years
old. To the northeast is Mt. Taylor, a composite volcano
about 3.5 million years ago. The sandstone beneath your feet
reveals an even older story. Formed by the deposits from
seas that periodically covered this area 63 to 138 million years
ago, these sandstone bluffs were carved by millions of years
3.5 million year old, Mt. Taylor - the volcano in the background -
seems young when compared with the 135 million year old
in the foreground.
on the sign
addition to the text there is a picture lava flows and sandstone with Mt.
Taylor in the background.
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