Falls Trail Stop 14

Falls Trail Stop 14
Layers of volcanic rock from an ancient maar volcano

NPS Photo by Stella Carroll

Here and across the canyon you can see layers of what looks like sandstone, but it is actually volcanic rock. You are standing in the mouth of an ancient maar volcano. A maar volcano is one that ejects lava through water such as a stream, lake or underground aquifer. Molten rock erupting through or into water caused steam explosions. Rapid cooling occurred as bits of lava and fragments of preexisting rock strata were spit into the air and deposited as thin layers. Some larger pieces of once molten rock, aerodynamically shaped by their plummet, are called volcanic bombs. The volcano was low and wide: about 2 miles across and approximately 100 feet high. You can see more maar deposits farther down the canyon.

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

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