• Capulin Volcano National Monument by J. Unruh

    Capulin Volcano

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • Road Work

    Expect delays due to road work on HWY 64/87 west of Capulin, between Capulin and Raton, NM.

  • Picnic Area Restrooms Closed

    Restrooms at the picnic area are temporarily closed. The restrooms in the Visior Center and in the Volcano Rim parking lot are open. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Volcano Formation

Volcano Diagram
Cinder cones are the simplest form of volcano.  They are built from particles and blobs of congealed lava ejected from a single vent.  As the gas-charged lava is blown violently into the air, it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as cinders around the vent to form a circular or oval cone.  Most cinder cones have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit and rarely rise more than a thousand feet or so above their surroundings.
NPS L. Cartmell
 

Between 56,000 and 62,000 years ago, just yesterday on the clock of geologic time, the scene near Capulin would have been one of fire, ash, glowing lava, and ear-shattering explosions.

Capulin Volcano formed during the most recent period of activity in the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. The cone rises more than 1,000 feet above the plains to 8,182 feet above sea level and consists chiefly of loose cinders, ash, and other rock debris. These materials were ejected during successive eruptions and fell back upon the vent, piling up to form the conical mountain. The symmetry of Capulin Volcano was preserved because lava did not flow from the main crater but from secondary vents located at the western base of the cone.

Evidence of the other episodes of activity can be seen in nearly 100 nearby volcanic peaks and lava capped mesas. The largest of these volcanic peaks is the Sierra Grande, an extinct volcano rising some 2,200 feet above the surrounding plain, about 10 miles to the southeast. The largest lava flow is Johnson Mesa, 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, to the west of Capulin.

Did You Know?

color photograph of tumuli or squeezeup

Tumuli or squeezeups usually develop when lava flows on level ground. A mound of lava is pushed up from the flow when the crust buckles, with additional pressure from the liquid lava of the flow.