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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 33.78°N
  • 105.93°W

  • 1731 m
    5678 ft

  • 327110
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Carrizozo.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Carrizozo.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Carrizozo.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



3250 BCE

1731 m / 5678 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)

Rock Types

Basalt / Picro-Basalt

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

The massive Carrizozo lava flow, which traveled 75 km down the Tularosa Basin of south-central New Mexico, is one of Earth's longest known Holocene lava flows. The youthful-looking basaltic flow originated from a broad low basaltic shield on the floor of the Tularosa Basin, east of the Rio Grande Rift, topped by Little Black Peak, a small cinder cone. The 4.2 cu km tube-fed pahoehoe flow covered 330 sq km and has a width that ranges from 1 km in the central neck region to 5 km in the proximal and distal portions. The flow was inferred to have been emplaced during a single long-duration eruption estimated to have lasted 2-3 decades. A surface exposure age of about 5200 years Before Present was obtained for the Carrizozo lava flow, the second youngest in New Mexico. An older lava flow traveled 16 km south and 11 km east from Broken Back crater.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Dunbar N, 1999. Cosmogenic 36Cl-determined age of the Carrizozo lava flows, south-central New Mexico. New Mex Geol, 21(2): 25-29.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Keszthelyi L P, Pieri D C, 1993. Emplacement of the 75-km-long Carrizozo lava flow field, south-central New Mexico. J Volc Geotherm Res, 59: 59-75.

Smith R L, Shaw H R, 1975. Igneous-related geothermal systems. U S Geol Surv Circ, 726: 58-83.

Stoeser D B, Senterfit M K, Zelten J E, 1989. Mineral resources of the Little Black Peak and Carrizozo Lava Flow wilderness study areas, Lincoln County, New Mexico. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1734-4: 1-20.

Wood C A, Kienle J (eds), 1990. Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ Press, 354 p.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
3250 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Surface Exposure Little Black Peak

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Malpais, The


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Little Black Peak Cone 1731 m 33° 47' 0" N 105° 56' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Broken Back Crater

Photo Gallery

Fractures cut the surface of a roughly 5000-year-old ropy pahoehoe lava flow in south-central New Mexico. Lava flow textures such as these are formed when molten lava continues to flow underneath the cooled plastic skin, causing the surface to bunch up or wrinkle into a form that resembles coiled rope. Highway 380 cuts across the northern part of the Carrizozo lava flow, providing access to the flow.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
Slabs of basaltic pahoehoe lava are tilted along a pressure ridge of the Carrizozo lava flow in New Mexico. This massive tube-fed pahoehoe flow displays abundant evidence of inflation features such as tumuli, pressure ridges, and lava pits. Tumuli form when brittle crust buckles to accommodate the inflating core of the flow, thus creating a central crack along the length of the tumulus. These structures sometimes grade into elongated features called pressure ridges.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The sparsely vegetated lava flow filling a broad valley is the Carrizozo lava flow, which was erupted from a low shield volcano topped by the Little Black Peak cinder cone. The massive lava flow, which was dated at about 5200 years Before Present, traveled 75 km down the Tularosa Basin in south-central New Mexico. The extremely lengthy travel distance of the flow (one of the longest on Earth during Holocene time) was facilitated by movement within lava tubes, which thermally insulated the flow.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The dark-colored lava flow extending across the center of the photo is a lobe of the Carrizozo flow. This view looks SE from the Valley of Fires recreation area administered by the Bureau of Land Management to the Sierra Blanca in the distance. The recreation area lies on one of several kipukas of older rocks surrounded by the Carrizozo flow, which covers an area of about 330 sq km.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The small dark hill in the middle distance right of center is Little Black Peak, a cinder cone topping a broad low shield volcano that was the source of the massive Carrizozo lava flow, which forms the dark streak extending across the photo. Most of the ~4.2 cu km pahoehoe flow extended off the photo to the right down the low-angle gradient of the Tularosa Basin to the SE for a distance of 75 km.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The Carrizozo lava flow surrounds the southern end of a kipuka providing a campground site in the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. This massive tube-fed pahoehoe lava flow, with a volume of about 4.3 cubic km, traveled 75 km down the extremely low-angle floor of the Tularosa Basin, with slopes of less than half a degree. The flow was inferred to have been emplaced during low-effusion-rate, long-duration eruption lasting 2-3 decades.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 1 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 117124 Basalt

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Carrizozo Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.