Friday, November 03, 2006

San Miguel Mountain, Bandelier National Monument

Powerful explosions from San Miguel Mountain, above, and nearby Jemez Mountain once buried a large portion of northern New Mexico under nearly one thousand feet of volcanic ash. The explosions are estimated to have been 600 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

The layers of ash eventually compacted into a soft rock called tuff (there’s an irony there, but I didn’t pick the name). The Rio Grande River carved deep canyons into the soft rock between Jemez Mountain and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the east of Santa Fe. Native Americans carved their homes into the canyon face, cutting bricks from the soft stone.

This view of San Miguel is from the opposite side of the Rio Grande Canyon. The passing cloud cast its shadow on the jagged remains of the once-fiery peak, creating a brief reminder of its past life.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

2 comments:

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