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Zuni-Bandera Volcanic Field

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The Zuni-Bandera Volcanic Field covers 2,460 km2 (950 mi2) in west-central New Mexico in the transition zone between the stable southern edge of the Colorado Plateau and the extended Basin and Range province to the south and Rio Grande Rift to the east.

Quick Facts

Location: New Mexico, Cibola County

Latitude: 34.8° N

Longitude: 108° W

Elevation: 2,550 (m) 8,366 (f)

Volcano type: volcanic field

Composition: basalt

Most recent eruption: 3,000 years ago

Nearby towns: Grants

Threat Potential: Low/Very Low*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System


Throughout its 1.5 million year history at least 100 vents erupted primarily basalt as cinder cones and lava flows that were sometimes fed by systems of lava tubes. There are also a few maar-type volcanoes that erupted explosively by interaction with groundwater. The youngest eruption formed the McCartys flow about 3,000 years ago. The vent is located about 40 km south of the intersection of I-40 and NM-117. The eruption built an 8-m- (26-ft-) high cinder cone atop a broad, low-lying shield with a lava flow that traveled mostly northward for 40 km before it turned east to flow 10 km down the Rio San Jose valley. The Bandera Crater and flows, the second youngest in the field, erupted around 10,000 years ago. The primary cinder cone is 150 m (500 ft) tall and 1 km (3280 ft) wide with a southwestern-side breach that fed a lava flow and tube system about 30 km (20 mi) to the south. El Malpais National Monument encompasses most of the young lava flows in this volcanic field.


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