Mt. Taylor stands northeast of Interstate 40 near Grants,
New Mexico. Its peak elevation is 11301 feet above sea level.
The mountain began to form nearly four million years ago, building lava domes and sending out lava flows and clouds of volcanic ash.
Today the mountain is horseshoe shaped, with an interior valley. This geometry is similar to that of Mount St. Helens after its 1980 eruption. By analogy to Mount St. Helens, Mt. Taylor may also have erupted in a sideways explosion which blew the top off the mountain.
The large volume of debris in the vicinity of Mt. Taylor indicates that this has occurred repeatedly, with the volcano rebuilding itself each time, until its final eruption approximately two million years ago.
|El Malpais is located at elevations that range
from 6,500 to over 8,000 feet above sea level. The lava
covers an area of 60 by 35 miles.
Several cinder cones and small craters are found in the area, mainly along the western edge. There are also a number of lava caves.
Although they have been covered by scattered trees and bushes, the patterns of the molten lava are still easily recognised. One can see ridges several meters high which were produced by large or slow-moving flows, and smaller ripples at the edges.
Interestingly, the lava flows themselves support the oldest living Douglas-fir trees (and possibly junipers) in the Southwest. Away from the lava flows, scattered stands of Ponderosa pine are located on north-facing slopes and in alcoves.
north of El Malpais are limestone and sandstone ridges which date to the Permian Period
(~ 280 million years old). To the east and south are Dakota
Sandstone, Mancos Shale, and Crevasse Canyon formations dating to the Jurassic Period (~ 130 million years old).
Around 3 million years ago, a basalt lava flow capped the area, forming erosion resistant mesas. Subsequent erosion created a landscape of wide valley bottoms and high mesas, with steep-sided canyons intruding on the mesas.
The cabin is on a (facing?) slope, overlooking an arroyo with clearings and earth dams.