Pinacate

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 31.772°N
  • 113.498°W

  • 1200 m
    3936 ft

  • 341001
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Pinacate.

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

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

Eruptive History


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


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1934 Dec 31 ] [ 1935 Jan 2 (?) ] Uncertain    
[ 1928 Jun 9 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    

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.

Photo Gallery


Pyroclastic-surge deposits surround the Cerro Colorado maar of the Pinacate volcanic field in NW México. These thin beds (note the coin for scale next to the the block in the center of the photo) were formed by successive explosions that produced laterally moving pyroclastic surges. The light-colored rock in the center of the photo is a ballistically ejected block that impacted onto the surface of earlier surge deposits, compressing them and forming a small pit.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Cerro Colorado tuff cone in the NE part of the Pinacate volcanic field contains a 1-km-wide crater. Explosions blasted the crater through a nearly flat surface 24 km NE of Pinacate Peak. Distribution of ejecta by prevailing winds produced a hill on the side of the crater opposite this steep, 110-m-high crater wall. The ejecta include fragments of underlying granitic and metamorphic rocks.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
The Pinacate volcanic field is a roughly 55 x 60 km area containing numerous maars, tuff rings, and cinder cones. The field is prominent in satellite photos of this arid region of NW México near the head of the Gulf of California. The crater rim in the center of the photo is that of Crater Elegante, a 1.6-km-wide maar. Pinacate Peak in the distance caps the Santa Clara shield volcano, which is dotted with many youthful scoria cones and morphologically fresh lava-flow fields.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
McDougal Crater, one of many Quaternary maars in the Pinacate volcanic field, was blasted through flat-lying lava flows that form the darker beds about three-fourths of the way up the crater wall. Lighter-colored pyroclastic-surge deposits form the crater rim. Playa deposits occupy the flat floor of the maar. Crystalline rocks of the Sierrita el Temporal range lie to the north beyond the crater rim at the upper right.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
McDougal crater on the NW side of the Pinacate volcanic field in NW México is the largest maar at Pinacate. This view from the SE looks across the 1520 x 1740 m wide crater, which is floored by playa deposits that lie 130 m below the rim. The crater fill was derived primarily from tuff deposits that mantle the crater rim to a maximum thickness of 15 m. The maar was erupted through flat-lying alluvial terrain of the Gran Desierto.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
A large ejected block lies on the rim of Trebol maar, immediately SE of MacDougal maar in the NW part of the Pinacate volcanic field. The dark and light colored bars on the scale in front of the block mark 10 cm increments. The block fractured into three large segments following impact.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
The SE wall of Elegante crater reveals a cross-sectional view of a cinder cone that existed prior to explosive formation of the maar. The cinder cone was breached (center) during the intrusion of light-gray sills seen at the low point of the cone and on its right-hand side. The vent for the cinder cone was located within the SE part of Elegante crater. The surface of the cone is mantled by surge deposits of the maar-forming eruption.

Photo by Jim Luhr, 1996 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
A geologist stands on the hackly surface of a young lava flow north of Volcán la Morusa, near Cerro Colorado. The flow is one of many youthful, sparsely vegetated basaltic lava flows of the Pinacate volcanic field. Flow morphologies remain pristine for long periods of time in this arid region.

Photo by Jim Luhr, 1996 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Cráter Elegante, the second largest maar of the Pinacate volcanic field, is seen here from the WSW. The notched area on the southern crater rim is a cinder cone truncated by the maar; another dark-colored cinder cone to the right on the southern flank is surrounded by light-colored pyroclastic-surge deposits from the maar-forming eruptions. A third cinder cone (lower left) is breached toward the rim of Cráter Elegante and is partially surrounded by the youthful dark-colored lava flow in the foreground.

Photo by David Roddy, 1965 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Cráter Elegante, seen here in an aerial oblique view from the NW, is a 1.6-km-wide maar formed in part by collapse of the crater walls into the vent. A series of basaltic lava flows, sills, and dikes pre-dating formation of the maar is exposed in the crater walls and is overlain by pyroclastic-surge deposits that mantle the rim and outer flanks of Cráter Elegante. Lake beds within the maar have been radiocarbon dated at between about 13,000 and 17,000 years, indicating a late-Pleistocene age for the maar-forming eruptions.

Photo by David Roddy, 1965 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Cerro Colorado tuff cone is one of the most prominent features of the Pinacate volcanic field. This aerial oblique view from the NW shows the 1-km-wide crater with its high point on the south rim. Tuff beds at Cerro Colorado dip inward up to 20-25 degrees at the south rim, much more steeply than at the low-rimmed Cráter Elegante. Cerro Colorado's crater was formed during several episodes of phreatomagmatic eruptions from multiple vents, during which portions of the tuff cone slumped into the crater.

Photo by David Roddy, 1965 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Participants in a geological field excursion examine outcrops on the floor of Cerro Colorado tuff cone. Cerro Colorado displays a wide variety of features produced by several episodes of phreatomagmatic eruptions. The south crater walls here reveal layered tuff deposits that are truncated by collapse of the inner crater walls into the vent. Steeply dipping dark-colored tuff beds (left) can be traced from the crater floor up and over the crater walls and down the outer flanks of the cone.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
A group of geologists observes bedded pyroclastic-surge deposits from the Cerro Colorado tuff cone. Thinly bedded planar surge layers are typical of distal portions of pyroclastic-surge deposits and originate from traction of particles within a dense surge cloud.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Tecolote, NE of Cráter Elegante, is one of the youngest cinder cones of the Pinacate volcanic field. The complex cone was constructed on top of neighboring Mayo cone and is breached to the NW. The irregular Tecolote cinder cone is cut by faults and small craters. Large volcanic bombs, some with cores of older volcanic and non-volcanic rocks, dot the southern and east crater rims and mantle the southern slopes. Six basaltic aa lava flows extend from the base of the cone.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1974 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
Santa Clara shield volcano, seen on the SW horizon beyond the rim of Cráter Elegante maar, is a massive basaltic-to-trachytic shield volcano of late-Pliocene to Pleistocene age. Santa Clara volcano is largely mantled by pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows of the basaltic Pinacate monogenetic volcanic series, which began erupting about 1.2 million years ago. More than 500 cinder cones and associated lava flows drape the shield volcano and extend into the surrounding desert.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1969 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
Spectacular pyroclastic-surge deposits are exposed in gullies on the flanks of Cráter Elegante in the Pinacate volcanic field of NW México. This photo shows cross-bedded sandwave bed forms produced by particles transported by saltation or dilute suspension in a rapidly moving surge cloud. The direction of movement of the surge cloud, seen by the truncation of dune beds on the near-vent side, was from right to left. Sandwave beds predominate in areas near the rim of the maar.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1997 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
A vast panorama of cinder cones and lava flows is viewed from near Cerro Colorado. More than 500 basaltic cinder cones and associated lava flows dot the Pinacate volcanic field, which also contains tuff cones like Cerro Colorado, nine maars, and the large basaltic-to-trachytic Santa Clara shield volcano.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1997 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
The dark-colored area in the center of this Space Shuttle photograph is the Pinacate volcanic field in NW Mexico near the Gulf of California (lower left). Formation of the large Santa Clara shield volcano near the center of the 2000 sq km volcanic field during the Pleistocene was followed by the eruption of maars, tuff rings, basaltic pyroclastic cones, and lava flows that mantle the shield volcano and extend into the surrounding desert. This monogenetic volcanism began more than 1.2 million years ago and has continued to the present.

Photo by National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), 1991.
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 10 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 117630-1 Basalt
NMNH 117630-10 Basalt
NMNH 117630-2 Basalt
NMNH 117630-3 Basalt
NMNH 117630-4 Basalt
NMNH 117630-5 Basalt
NMNH 117630-6 Basalt
NMNH 117630-7 Basalt
NMNH 117630-8 Basalt
NMNH 117630-9 Basalt

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