Near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Coconino County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Erupting less than 1,000 years ago, Sunset Crater is the youngest in an impressive field of volcanoes all around you. The 1,000-foot-high (305m) cinder cone we see today formed when basalt magma rose directly to the surface through a primary vent. Gas pressure produced a roaring fountain of lava estimated at 850 feet (260m) high.
Pressure blasted the lava into pieces, which cooled in flight and piled into this cone-shaped hill. As gas pressure decreased, lava oozed several times from the base of the cone. When the magma ran out of gas, lava spattered the rim. The volcano was short-lived, only months or a couple of years at most from birth to extinction.
The bright-rimmed cone impressed John Wesley Powell, who explored the San Francisco volcanic field in 1885. He wrote, "The contrast in the colors is so great that on viewing the mountain from a distance the red cinders seem to be on fire." His "Sunset" mountain became known officially as Sunset Crater.
Dzil K'ídzítsooí (Yellow top mountain), Navajo
Mahdt billah (lava or burnt land), Yavapai
Ha gudni Káá (where it burnt), Apache
[Photo Inset Captions]
In 1943, a volcano erupted in a corn field near the Mexican village of Parícutin, creating a cinder cone almost identical to Sunset Crater. This volcano was documented from birth (1943) to extinction (1952) and helps us understand what happened here 1,000 years ago.
Like Parícutin, the eruption that created Sunset Crater destroyed the fields and homes of Native peoples who had lived in this area for centuries. Some families may have relocated to lower elevations, establishing new farming villages preserved now within Wupatki National Monument.
Farmers observe Parícutin volcano, where the ash fall and lava buried five villages and displace thousands of people.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 35° 22.328′ N, 111° 33.337′ W. Marker is near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona, in Coconino County. Touch for map. The marker is at a pullout in the Coconino National Forest, outside the official national monument boundary, a little over a mile east of US Route 89 along the Sunset Crater Volcano/Wupatki Loop Road. Marker is in this post office area: Flagstaff AZ 86004, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles "The Peaks" (here, next to this marker); The Birth of a Mountain (approx. 2.2 miles away); Life and Landscape Transformed (approx. 2.3 miles away); The Power to Symbolize (approx. 2.3 miles away); As Powerful as a Volcano (approx. 2.3 miles away); Changes to Come (approx. 2.3 miles away); Bushmaster Park (approx. 11.1 miles away); Arizonal Trail - A Tribute to Dale Shewalter (approx. 11½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
Also see . . .
1. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. (Submitted on April 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Sunset Crater Volcano Geology. (Submitted on April 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Environment • Exploration • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 690 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 4. submitted on April 14, 2011, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 5. submitted on April 24, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.