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Cerro Prieto

Photo of this volcano
  • Mexico
  • México and Central America
  • Lava dome
  • Unknown - Evidence Uncertain
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 32.418°N
  • 115.305°W

  • 223 m
    731 ft

  • 341000
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Cerro Prieto.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Cerro Prieto.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Cerro Prieto.

The Global Volcanism Program has no synonyms or subfeatures listed for Cerro Prieto.

Eruptive History

The Global Volcanism Program is not aware of any Holocene eruptions from Cerro Prieto. If this volcano has had large eruptions (VEI >= 4) prior to 10,000 years ago, information might be found on the Cerro Prieto page in the LaMEVE (Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions) database, a part of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).

Deformation History

There is data available for 2 deformation periods. Expand each entry for additional details.


Deformation during 2004 Dec - 2005 Dec [Subsidence; Observed by InSAR]

Start Date: 2004 Dec Stop Date: 2005 Dec Direction: Subsidence Method: InSAR
Magnitude: Unknown Spatial Extent: Unknown Latitude: Unknown Longitude: Unknown

Remarks: An interferogram stack shows that the subsiding area is correlated with the area of the Cierro Prieto pull-apart basin, suggesting that tectonic faults control the spatial extent of the subsidence.

Figure (see Caption)

(a) Geocoded map of LOS displacement rate (cm/yr) for December 2004?December 2005 period obtained using the stacking technique. (b) and (c) Best-fit model predicted LOS displacements. (d) Residuals between observed (a) and predicted (b) LOS displacements. Areas of low coherence (b0.1) are masked in (a), (c), and (d). Black square shows location of the reference benchmark ?10037?. Black dotted line frames the limits of the CPGF. Black lines correspond to the profiles A?A?, B?B? and C?C? illustrated in Fig. 7. Brown rectangles in (b) and (d) show the tensional rectangular cracks of the best-fit model (Table 4). Faults notation is as in Fig. 2b.

From: Sarychikhina et al 2011.


Reference List: Sarychikhina et al 2011.

Full References:

Sarychikhina, O. E. Glowacka, R. Mellors and F. Suárez Vidal, 2011. Land subsidence in the Cerro Prieto Geothermal Field, Baja California, Mexico, from 1994 to 2005: An integrated analysis of DInSAR, leveling and geological data. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 204 (2011) 76-90.

Deformation during 1993 - 1997 [Subsidence; Observed by InSAR]

Start Date: 1993 Stop Date: 1997 Direction: Subsidence Method: InSAR
Magnitude: Unknown Spatial Extent: Unknown Latitude: 32.000 Longitude: -115.000

Remarks: Geothermal extraction

Figure (see Caption)

Enlargement of the geothermal area. a) Interferometric combination d (16.12.1995/04.05.1996). One full color cycle corresponds to 28 mm of range change, i.e. 30 mm of vertical displacement. The west part of the subsidence halo is masked by the evaporation pond, which is easy to distinguish because water surface coherence is close to zero; b) The best-fit model obtained using an elastic deformation model with 5 sources; c) Fringe residuals between the real and the simulated interferograms.

From: Carnec and Fabriol 1999.


Reference List: Carnec and Fabriol 1999.

Full References:

Carnec C, Fabriol H, 1999. Monitoring and modeling land subsidence at the Cerro Prieto geothermal field, Baja California, Mexico, using SAR interferometry. Geophysical Research Letters, 26: 1211-1214.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Cerro Prieto.

Photo Gallery

The Cerro Prieto geothermal field on the Colorado River delta in NW México is the second largest producing geothermal field in North America, next only to the Geysers field in California. This view shows the Unit 1 power plant. Exploration drilling at Cerro Prieto began in 1959. By the mid-1980s more than 100 wells had been drilled to depths as great as 3.5 km. Despite the paucity of surface volcanic features at Cerro Prieto, the hydrothermal system covers an area of more than 100 sq km.

Photo by Pat Dobson, 1998 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
See title for photo information.
Cerro Prieto lava dome is reflected in an evaporation pond of the Cerro Prieto geothermal field at the head of the Gulf of California, 35 km south of the city of Mexicali. The first geothermal power plants began operation at Cerro Prieto in 1973, and the field is now the 2nd largest in North America. Nine power plants and about 130 wells were in operation in 1997, with four more power plants under construction.

Photo by Pat Dobson, 1998 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
See title for photo information.
Cerro Prieto ("Dark Hill"), a small, 223-m-high compound rhyodacitic lava dome, is the only surficial volcanic feature of the major Cerro Prieto geothermal field, the 2nd largest in North America. Cerro Prieto is the northernmost volcanic field in México and rises above the arid floor of the Imperial valley at the head of the Gulf of California, 35 km south of the city of Mexicali. The dome consists of rhyodacitic intrusives and lava flows and was constructed along a NE-trending fracture. A 200-m-wide crater is located at the summit of the NE-most dome.

Photo by Marshall Reed, 1959 (U.S. Department of Energy).
See title for photo information.
The small black circle at the left-center margin surrounded by a light-colored geothermal area is Cerro Prieto. This U2 photo was taken from the NE at an altitude of 60,000 feet. The Sierra de los Cucapas trend diagonally across the center of the photo above arkosic sands of the Cucapas bajada. Beyond the range is Laguna Salada. The Peninsula Ranges are in the background with clouds and fog beyond over the Pacific Ocean. Some of the foreground farmlands were condemned prior to development of the geothermal field.

Photo by U.S. Air Force (courtesy of Marshall Reed, U.S. Department of Energy).
See title for photo information.
The small, 223-m-high Cerro Prieto compound rhyodacitic lava dome is the only surficial volcanic expression of the Cerro Prieto geothermal field. A 200-m-wide crater is located at the summit of the NE-most dome. The Cerro Prieto dome was roughly estimated from paleomagnetic evidence to have formed during at least five eruptive stages, including both magmatic and phreatic activity, between about 100,000 and 10,000 years ago. Early explorers in the mid 1500s reported steam and sulfurous gases at Cerro Prieto.

Photo by Brian Hausback, 1995 (California State University, Sacramento).
See title for photo information.
GVP Map Holdings

The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Very small-scale maps (such as world maps) are not included. The maps database originated over 30 years ago, but was only recently updated and connected to our main database. We welcome users to tell us if they see incorrect information or other problems with the maps; please use the Contact GVP link at the bottom of the page to send us email.

Title: San Felipe
Publisher: INEGI
Country: Mexico
Year: 1998
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of San Felipe
Title: Carta Geolica de la Republica Mexicana
Publisher: Recursos Minerales and Institute de Gelogia
Country: Mexico
Year: 1992
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:2,000,000
Map of Carta Geolica de la Republica Mexicana
Title: Potential Hazards from Future Volc Eruptions in CA
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1989
Series: B
Map Type: Geology (Volcanic Hazard)
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Potential Hazards from Future Volc Eruptions in CA
Title: United States, Mexico
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: United States, Mexico
Year: 1988
Series: ONC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of United States, Mexico
Title: Mexico, United States
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: Mexico, US- AZ
Year: 1986
Series: ONC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Mexico, United States
Title: W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1984
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology (Volcano)
Scale: 1:2,500,000
Map of W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers
Title: Estado de Baja California
Publisher: USGS /SAHOP
Country: Mexico
Year: 1982
Series: SAHOP Landsat
Map Type: Satellite
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Estado de Baja California
Title: Estado de Sonora
Publisher: USGS /SAHOP
Country: Mexico
Year: 1982
Series: SAHOP Landsat
Map Type: Satellite
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Estado de Sonora
Title: San Felipe
Publisher: SPP
Country: Mexico
Year: 1982
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of San Felipe
Title: Mexicali
Publisher: SPP & DGETN
Country: Mexico
Year: 1980
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Mexicali
Title: Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States
Publisher: ERDA and USGS
Country: United States
Year: 1977
Map Type: Cultural (Geothermal Resources)
Scale: 1:1,250,000
Map of Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States
Title: Geologic Map of California
Publisher: CA Division of Mines and Geology
Country: United States
Year: 1944
Series: CA Geol Data Map Series
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:750,000
Map of Geologic Map of California
Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Cerro Prieto in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

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