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Carrizozo Lava Flow

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The 75-km- (50-mi-) long Carrizozo lava flow is located in south-central New Mexico in the Tularose Basin.

Quick Facts

Location: New Mexico, Lincoln County

Latitude: 33.78° N

Longitude: 105.93° W

Elevation: 1,731 (m) 5,679 (f)

Volcano type: lava flow

Composition: basalt

Most recent eruption: 5,000 years ago

Nearby towns: Carrizozo

Threat Potential: Low/Very Low*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System


Carrizozo Lava Flow from space
View of the Carrizozo lava flow from space.

The 75-km- (50-mi-) long Carrizozo lava flow is located in south-central New Mexico in the Tularose Basin. Eruption began approximately 5,000 years ago, and after two to three decades at a relatively low effusion rate, 4.3 km3 (1 mi3) of basalt lava covered 330 km2 (130 mi2) of land. All of the lava originated from a vent, Little Black Peak, on the northern end, which is visible today as a 27-m (88-ft) tall cinder cone that rises above the flow. The vent lies within a zone of known crustal weakness, the Capitan lineament, where magmas are able to rise through the crust and erupt on the surface. The lava flow is one of the longest known that has erupted on Earth in the past 10,000 years. It achieved its great length by flowing in insulated lava tubes. Carrizozo Malpais is the local name, which roughly translates to “bad footing” in Spanish, and describes the difficulty of traversing the area.


2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment

When erupting, all volcanoes pose a degree of risk to people and infrastructure, however, the risks are not equivalent from one volcano to another because of differences in eruptive style and geographic location. Assessing the relative threats posed by U.S. volcanoes identifies which volcanoes warrant the greatest risk-mitigation efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners. This update

John W. Ewert, Angela K. Diefenbach, David W. Ramsey