San Francisco volcanic field

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USGS Digital elevation model of the San Francisco volcanic field San francisco peaks geo.jpg
USGS Digital elevation model of the San Francisco volcanic field
Satellite image of part of the San Francisco volcanic field, presented as a 3D terrain model. Note that North is to the right. San Francisco volcanics 3D satforo.jpg
Satellite image of part of the San Francisco volcanic field, presented as a 3D terrain model. Note that North is to the right.

The San Francisco volcanic field is an area of volcanoes in northern Arizona, north of Flagstaff, USA. The field covers 1,800 square miles (4,700 km²) of the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau. The field contains 600 volcanoes ranging in age from nearly 6 million years old to less than 1,000 years (Miocene to Holocene), of which Sunset Crater is the youngest. [1] The highest peak in the field is Humphreys Peak, at Flagstaff's northern perimeter: the peak is Arizona's highest at 12,633 feet (3,851 m) and is a part of the San Francisco Peaks, an extinct stratovolcano complex.

Volcano A rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Flagstaff, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

Contents

Description

The volcanic field seems to have formed from a geological hotspot. As the North American plate moves over the spot, new volcanoes appear. Thus, the newest volcanoes are at the east side of the field. Most of the volcanoes are basalt cinder cones, but there are also large lava domes consisting of rhyolite and dacite.

Hotspot (geology) Volcanic regions thought to be fed by underlying mantle that is anomalously hot compared with the surrounding mantle

In geology, the places known as hotspots or hot spots are volcanic regions thought to be fed by underlying mantle that is anomalously hot compared with the surrounding mantle. Their position on the Earth's surface is independent of tectonic plate boundaries. There are two hypotheses that attempt to explain their origins. One suggests that hotspots are due to mantle plumes that rise as thermal diapirs from the core–mantle boundary. The other hypothesis is that lithospheric extension permits the passive rising of melt from shallow depths. This hypothesis considers the term "hotspot" to be a misnomer, asserting that the mantle source beneath them is, in fact, not anomalously hot at all. Well-known examples include the Hawaii, Iceland and Yellowstone hotspots.

Basalt A magnesium- and iron-rich extrusive igneous rock

Basalt is a mafic extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium-rich and iron-rich lava exposed at or very near the surface of a terrestrial planet or a moon. More than 90% of all volcanic rock on Earth is basalt. Basalt lava has a low viscosity, due to its low silica content, resulting in rapid lava flows that can spread over great areas before cooling and solidification. Flood basalt describes the formation in a series of lava basalt flows.

Cinder cone A steep conical hill of loose pyroclastic fragments around a volcanic vent

A cinder cone is a steep conical hill of loose pyroclastic fragments, such as either volcanic clinkers, volcanic ash, or cinder that has been built around a volcanic vent. The pyroclastic fragments are formed by explosive eruptions or lava fountains from a single, typically cylindrical, vent. As the gas-charged lava is blown violently into the air, it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as either cinders, clinkers, or scoria around the vent to form a cone that often is symmetrical; with slopes between 30–40°; and a nearly circular ground plan. Most cinder cones have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit.

Given that Sunset Crater is such a young volcanic feature of this area and that eruptions have occurred every several thousands of years in frequency, it is likely that there will be a future eruption in the San Francisco Volcanic field. However, it is impossible to predict when and exactly where a new eruption might occur. The United States Geological Survey does say that a future eruption would likely be in the eastern side of the volcanic field, where the most recent volcanic activity has occurred. Such an eruption is likely to be small and pose little hazard due to the remoteness of the area.

Visitation and usage

Popular tourist and hiking destinations in the volcanic field include the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness, 20 miles northwest of Flagstaff; and Sunset Crater, which is particularly popular because it is easily accessible and has interesting horizontal lava flows at the base of the crater.[ citation needed ]

Kendrick Mountain Wilderness

Kendrick Mountain Wilderness is a 6,510-acre (26.3 km2) wilderness area in the U.S. State of Arizona. It lies north of the city of Flagstaff on the Coconino Plateau in Coconino County. Kendrick Mountain Wilderness was designated a protected Wilderness area by Congress in 1984. About two thirds of the wilderness is contained within the Kaibab National Forest. Kendrick Mountain Wilderness contains 10,418-foot (3,175 m) Kendrick Peak, upon which a fire lookout has been located since the early 1900s.

Areas of the volcanic field have been used by NASA for testing techniques for exploration in a simulated extraterrestrial terrain environment. [2] NASA has also conducted the Desert Research and Technology Studies (DRATS) tests here.

NASA space-related agency of the United States government

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Desert Research and Technology Studies field trials of technologies for manned planetary exploration

NASA's Desert Research and Technology Studies is a group of teams which perform an annual series of field trials seeking to demonstrate and test candidate technologies and systems for manned exploration of the surface of the Moon, Mars, or other rocky bodies.

Notable vents

SP Crater is a cinder cone with a basalt lava flow that extends for 4 miles (6 km). SP Crater.jpg
SP Crater is a cinder cone with a basalt lava flow that extends for 4 miles (6 km).
Black Point lava flow in the San Francisco volcanic field. Little Colorado River at lower right. Astronaut photo from the International Space Station, 2009. Black Point Lava Flow, Arizona.jpg
Black Point lava flow in the San Francisco volcanic field. Little Colorado River at lower right. Astronaut photo from the International Space Station, 2009.
NameElevationLocationLast eruption
metersfeet Coordinates
Bill Williams Mountain [3] 2,8219,256-2.8 million years ago
Colton Crater (Crater 160) [4] 2,2467,368 35°32′42″N111°38′10″W / 35.54500°N 111.63611°W / 35.54500; -111.63611 (Colton Crater) -
Double Crater [5] 2,4267,959 35°20′44″N111°27′5″W / 35.34556°N 111.45139°W / 35.34556; -111.45139 (Double Crater) -
Kendrick Peak [3] 3,17510,418-1.4 million years ago
Merriam Crater 2,0776,813 35°20′19″N111°17′11″W / 35.33861°N 111.28639°W / 35.33861; -111.28639 (Merriam Crater) 20,000 years ago
O'Leary Peak [3] 2,7188,916 35°24′05″N111°31′36″W / 35.40139°N 111.52667°W / 35.40139; -111.52667 (O'Leary Peak) Pleistocene
San Francisco Peaks 3,85112,633 35°20′47″N111°40′40″W / 35.34639°N 111.67778°W / 35.34639; -111.67778 (San Francisco Peaks) -
Mount Elden 2,8359,300 35°20′47″N111°40′40″W / 35.34639°N 111.67778°W / 35.34639; -111.67778 (San Francisco Peaks) -
Sitgreaves Mountain [3] ---1.9 million years ago
SP Crater (SP Mountain) [6] 2,1407,021 35°34′56″N111°37′55″W / 35.58222°N 111.63194°W / 35.58222; -111.63194 (SP Crater) 71,000 years ago
Strawberry Crater 35°26′38″N111°28′40″W / 35.44389°N 111.47778°W / 35.44389; -111.47778 (Strawberry Crater) -
Sunset Crater [3] [7] 2,4468,026 35°21′51″N111°30′11″W / 35.36417°N 111.50306°W / 35.36417; -111.50306 (Sunset Crater) 950 ± 40 years
Sugarloaf Peak [3] ---220,000 years ago

See also

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S P Crater mountain in United States of America

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OLeary Peak

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The Volcano (British Columbia) mountain in Canada

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Strawberry Crater

Strawberry Crater is a cinder cone volcano, more than 1,000 feet (300 m) high, in the San Francisco volcanic field, 20 miles (32 km) north of Flagstaff, Arizona. It is along Forest Road 545 between the Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater National Monument in the Strawberry Crater Wilderness. The crater lies in a volcanic field at a base elevation of about 5,500 feet (1,700 m), and prominence heights of about 6,526 feet (1,989 m). The northwestern end of the crater is covered with lava flows, while the southern end is filled with low cinder cones. Several of the surrounding cones include the better known, taller and younger Sunset Crater in the adjacent Sunset Crater National Monument.

Lenox Crater is a cinder cone located in the San Francisco Volcanic Field in Coconino County, Arizona, an area known for volcanic activity. The volcano erupted approximately 1,000 years ago, filling a small depression with ash and volcanic cinders. The lava flow from the eruption flowed near the base of Sunset Crater. The elevation of the highest point on the rim of Lenox Crater is 7,243 ft, with a topographical prominence of 181 ft. A small trail leads to the top, giving great views of Sunset Crater and the surrounding mountains.

References

  1. Holm, R. F., and Moore, R. B., Holocene scoria cone and lava flows at Sunset Crater, northern Arizona, Geological Society of America Centennial Field Guide, 1987. pp. 393-7.
  2. Allison, Lee (June 14, 2009). "Robot recon underway in Black Point lava field". Arizona Geology. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wood, Charles A.; Jűrgen Kienle (1993). Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge University Press. pp. 278–281. ISBN   0-521-43811-X.
  4. "Crater 160, Arizona". Volcano World. Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  5. "Double Crater". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey.
  6. "SP Mountain, Arizona". Volcano World. Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  7. "Sunset Crater". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution . Retrieved May 7, 2007.