El Paso Southwestern

Volcanic Features



Welcome to the El Paso Southwestern Volcanic features homepage presented by The University Of Texas at El Paso, Department of Geological Sciences. The first thing we should look at is some general information about the El Paso region for those of you who do not live in the area and wish to visit El Paso. El Paso is on the extreme western point of Texas literally straddling the US-Mexico border, as well as the Texas- New Mexico border. It is situated on the northern bank of the world famous Rio Grande.

  It is high by most city standards at an altitude of 3,796ft, (1,147m). Originally named El Paso Del Norte, El Paso means pass of the north, which turns out to be two-fold. Not only are we settled between Mexico and the United States, we are also sitting in the middle of the second most active rifting system in the world. It is referred to in the annals of Geology as the Rio Grande Rifting System and is second in activity to the Great East African Rifting System. The combined population of the region is estimated at around 2 million people, included in numerous towns and colonias along with the major cities of Las Cruces-New Mexico, Juarez-Mexico and El Paso-Texas. Unlike most major cities around the world the cities in the Southwest are spread out laterally rather than built upwards like New York. This has given us a tremendous advantage in studying our geologic region.

 The mountains in the El Paso southwest are a veritable gold mine of geologic features. Some of the places we are going to talk about include Aden Crater, a large shield volcano crater, which is similar in size to UTEP's Sun Bowl stadium. The Red Tuff Cliffs are located just outside Las Cruces. The Afton Lava flows are north of El Paso, with Aden crater situated over the Afton Lava flows. Kilbourne and Hunts Maar Volcanoes are located between Aden crater and Sunland Park. Some of the other fascinating areas around the southwest include White Sands National Monument, Carlbad Caverns National Monument, Franklin Mountains State Park, and the Lake Lucero Gypsum Field.

Beginning at the University of Texas at El Paso, you will be able to see some of the most wonderful geologic exhibits. First thing is to visit the Geology building exhibit shelves to the left and right as you enter the front of the Geology building. These exhibits include many wonderful fossils and numerous crystal and mineral samples. The second thing you should do is go and visit the El Paso Centenial museum located across the street from the Geology department. They have a large section dedicated to local geology on the second floor. The have a fine musuem of local artistry with various themes that changes occasionally.

Now is the time to help you see how easy it is to get to some of the local geological features. Some of the links below will take you to some of the most spectacular and even some unearthly sites you will see around the southwest. Just click on the links below to go to that page which contains a roadlog to get you to your destination, with pictures of the area you will be visiting and a short synopsis of the features and history of the structure. Now all you have to do is click on one of the links below to take you to that particular page.

Aden Crater {A Shield Volcano}

Kilbourne & Hunt's Maar Volcanoes {Explosive but fascinating}

Afton Lava Flows {Flows from a fissure}

Black Mountain {A large Cinder Cone Volcano}

Red Lava Cliffs {Just south of Las Cruces N.M.}

Valley Of Fires Lava Flow {20 miles long and 2 miles wide}

Lake Lucero Gypsum Crystal Field {Not Volcanic Feature But Amazing}

Special Thanks to Dr. BETSY JULIAN and Dr. JERRY HOFFER

for their invaluable contributions and knowledge.

This Page created by Markus G. Boenisch