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New Mexico Earth Matters — Back-issues


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New Mexico’s Volcanic Hazards: A Matter of Time
Matthew J. Zimmerer

New Mexico’s world-renowned landscapes reflect the vigorous geologic activity of the region. For those who live here, we see—and sometimes even feel—this Earth energy. However, such geologic vigor comes with a price in the form of geologic hazards. Reports on the evening news about earthquakes in eastern New Mexico are increasingly common. Driving over mountain passes and through deep gorges of northern New Mexico may require dodging boulders on the road—evidence of recent rock falls and landslides. Floods from the summer monsoons frequently reshape our neighborhood arroyos, and redesign the rapids in our rivers. One of the greatest potential hazards in New MexMexico, one not experienced by any humans in recent history, is a volcanic eruption from the many young volcanic fields found in the state. In this article, we explore the history of young volcanoes in New Mexico, describe recent research to better understand these hazards, and ponder the likely events during a future eruption.