Cerros del Rio Volcanic Field

Location: 35° 30' to 35° 52' N, 106° 05' to 106° 20' W, Santa Fe County
Type: Pliocene Composite volcano, scoria cones, maars, viscous domes, volcanic necks
Age: Late Pliocene; 3.9 Ma to 1.7 Ma

Classic late Cenozoic volcanic field with diverse array of volcanic morphologies and compositions; thick viscous flow domes of basaltic andesite; numerous hydromagmatic eruptions; section in White Rock Canyon exposes numerous hydromagmatic deposits


Alkali basalt, basaltic andesite, maars, scoria cones, and viscous flows




Geological Overview

Multiple vents ranging from alkali basalt to andesite. Andesitic eruptions are relatively low in volatiles such that flows are thick and originate from vents with very small pyroclastic centers. The volcanic rocks thicken towards the Rio Grande implying that the volcanism was contemporaneous with downcutting of the river through the accumulating volcanoclastic sediments.  Maars, originally identified during mapping of the field, are common, including a half-sectioned example (Montoso maar).

Geologic Map of the Cerros del Rio field, J.C. Aubele, 1978


View Cerros del Rio volcanic field in a larger map



Aubele, J. C., 1978, Geology of Cerros del Rio volcanic field; in Hawley, J. W. (ed) Guidebook to Rio Grande rift in New Mexico and Colora- do: New Mexioc Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Circular 163, p. 198-201.

Aubele, J. C., 1979, The Cerros del Rio volcanic field: New Mexico Geological Society 30th Field Conference Guidebook, p. 243-252. Aubele, J. C., 1999, Cerros del Rio volcanic field: New Mexico Geological Society 50th Field Conference Guidebook, Albuquerque Geology, p.13-14.

Dethier, D. P., 1989, Geology of White Rock quadrangle, Santa Fe and Los Alamos Counties, New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Map, 1:24000 scale.

Duncker, K. E., 1988, Trace element geo-chemistry and stable isotope constraints on the petrogenesis of Cerros del Rio lavas, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico [M.S. thesis]: University of Texas, Arlington, 158 pp. Manley, K., and Mehnert, H. H., 1981, New K- Ar ages for Miocene and Pliocene volcanic rocks in northwestern Espanola basin and their relationship to the history of the Rio Grande rift: Isochron/West, no. 30, p. 5-8. Zimmerman, C., and Kudo, A. M., 1979, Geology and petrology of Tetilla Peak, Santa Fe County, New Mexico: New Mexico Geological Society 30th Field Conference Guidebook, p. 253-256. 


All text and photos L. Crumpler, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

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