Volcanoes in the Western U.S.

Last weekend, on vacation in New Mexico, I visited the Bandalier National Monument and the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve, a huge, 89,000-acre sunken crater in the Jemez Mountains, a volcanic mountain range. There hasn’t been any volcanic activity for many thousands of years, so today the area is a just a very scenic mountain valley — but since it is a sunken volcano, it is unlike any other mountain valley I’d ever seen before, with very little vegetation and little “hills” of hardened magma. Upon my return to work this week, coincidentally reviewing our Colorado Geological Survey collection, I was surprised to run across a “field trip guide” to the Jemez Mountains and Valles Caldera. This document is available for checkout from our library and offers tourists an easy-to-understand guide to this very scenic and fascinating area. CGS has also published a number of other “field trip guides” to interesting geological sites in Colorado and nearby states. Search “field trip guide” in our web catalog for more titles.

Volcanoes and volcanic areas are not uncommon in the western U.S. Of course everyone is familiar with Mt. St. Helens in Washington, which erupted in 1980 and a few years ago was the subject of speculation that it might erupt again before long. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is also a volcanic region (hence the geysers) that geologists say has the potential to erupt at any time. For more information on U.S. volcanoes, check out another publication available from our library, Volcano Hazard in the United States: A Research Assessment by Richard A. Warrick.