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Pinacate

Photo of this volcano
  • Mexico
  • México and Central America
  • Pyroclastic cone(s)
  • Unknown - Evidence Credible
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 31.85°N
  • 113.5°W

  • 1183 m
    3881 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.

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.

Eruptive History

There is data available for 2 Holocene eruptive periods.

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

There is no Deformation History data available for Pinacate.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Pinacate.

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) were formed by successive explosions that produced pyroclastic surges. The light-colored rock in the center of the photo is a ballistic block that impacted the surface of earlier surge deposits, compressing them and forming a small pit called a bomb sag.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
The Cerro Colorado maar, in the Pinacate volcanic field 24 km NE of Pinacate Peak, contains a 1-km-wide crater formed by explosions on a nearly flat surface. 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).
The Pinacate volcanic field covers approximately 55 x 60 km and contains numerous maars and scoria cones. The field is prominent in this arid region of NW México near the head of the Gulf of California. The crater rim across the center of the photo is the 1.6-km-wide Cráter Elegante maar. Pinacate Peak in the distance is at the summit of Santa Clara shield volcano, which contains many scoria cones and lava flow fields.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
McDougal Crater, one of many Quaternary maars in the Pinacate volcanic field, formed within darker lava flow units near the top of the crater wall. Lighter-colored pyroclastic surge deposits form the crater rim and playa deposits formed on the crater floor. Crystalline rocks of the Sierrita el Temporal range are visible beyond the upper right crater rim to the north.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
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 1,520 x 1,740 m wide crater, which contains playa deposits 130 m below the rim. The maar erupted through flat-lying alluvial terrain of the Gran Desierto.

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

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
The SE wall of Cráter Elegante reveals a cross-section of a scoria cone that existed prior to explosive formation of the maar. The light-gray remnants of the sill intrusions are visible at the low point of the cone and below its right flank. The vent was located where the SE part of Cráter Elegante is now. The surface of the cone is mantled by pyroclastic surge deposits from the maar-forming eruption.

Photo by Jim Luhr, 1996 (Smithsonian Institution).
A geologist stands on the irregular surface of a lava flow north of Volcán la Morusa, near Cerro Colorado. The flow is one of many young 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).
Cráter Elegante is one of the largest maars of the Pinacate volcanic field, seen here from the WSW. The uneven area on the southern crater rim (to the right) is a scoria cone that was dissected during formation of the maar. Another darker scoria cone to the right is surrounded by lighter-colored pyroclastic surge deposits from the maar-forming eruptions. A third scoria cone (lower left) opens toward the rim of Cráter Elegante and is partially surrounded by the younger dark-colored lava flow in the foreground.

Photo by David Roddy, 1965 (U.S. Geological Survey).
Cráter Elegante, seen here in an aerial oblique view from the NW, is a 1.6-km-wide maar in the Pinacate volcanic field. Within the crater walls are exposed basaltic lava flows, sills, and dikes pre-dating formation of the maar, which are overlain by pyroclastic surge deposits that cover the rim and outer flanks. 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).
Cerro Colorado tuff cone is one of the most prominent features of the Pinacate volcanic field in Mexico. This aerial oblique view from the NW shows the 1-km-wide crater with the highest point on the S rim. Tuff beds that compose the S rim dip inward up to 20-25 degrees. 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).
Participants in a geological field excursion examine the stratigraphy within the Cerro Colorado maar. The outcrop exposes a variety of deposits produced by several episodes of phreatomagmatic activity. The south crater walls here reveal layered tuff deposits and material from the collapse of the inner crater wall into the vent. Steeply dipping dark-colored tuff beds (left) can be traced from the crater floor up and over the walls, and then down the outer flanks of the cone.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
A group of geologists observe bedded pyroclastic surge deposits from the Cerro Colorado maar. Thinly bedded surge units are typical of distal portions of pyroclastic surge deposits, caused by deposition of material from the basal part of the flow.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
Volcán Tecolote is one of the youngest scoria cones of the Pinacate volcanic field and is located NE of Cráter Elegante. This complex cone contains faults and small craters, opens towards the NW, and was constructed on top of the Mayo cone. Large volcanic bombs, some with cores of older volcanic and non-volcanic rocks, are scattered across the southern and east crater rims and southern flanks. Six basaltic ‘a’a lava flows extend from the base of the cone.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1974 (Michigan Technological University).
Santa Clara shield volcano, seen on the SW horizon beyond the rim of Cráter Elegante maar, is of late-Pliocene to Pleistocene age. The broad edifice 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 scoria cones and associated lava flows have formed across the Pinacate field and extend into the surrounding desert.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1969 (Michigan Technological University).
Pyroclastic surge deposits exposed in gullies on the flanks of Cráter Elegante in the Pinacate volcanic field of NW México. This photo shows cross bedding produced by particles transported by saltation or dilute suspension in a high-velocity pyroclastic surge. 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. This type of bedding is common in areas near the rim of the maar.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1997 (Michigan Technological University).
More than 500 basaltic scoria cones and associated lava flows dot the Pinacate volcanic field, visible here near Cerro Colorado. The field also contains maars like Cerro Colorado and the large basaltic-to-trachytic Santa Clara shield volcano.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1997 (Michigan Technological University).
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: 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: 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: Puerto Penasco
Publisher: SPP & DGETN
Country: Mexico
Year: 1980
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Puerto Penasco

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: Arizona (Satellite Image)
Publisher: USGS w/ NASA ERTS-1
Country: United States
Year: 1973
Map Type: Satellite
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Arizona (Satellite Image)

Title: Sonora
Publisher: American Geographical Society of New York
Country: Mexico
Year: 1958
Series: North America
Map Type: Physiographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Sonora
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, and may be availble for research (contact the Rock and Ore Collections Manager). Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description Lava Source Collection Date
NMNH 117630-1 Basalt Volcán La Morusa --
NMNH 117630-10 Basalt -- --
NMNH 117630-2 Basalt -- --
NMNH 117630-3 Basalt -- --
NMNH 117630-4 Basalt Crater Elegante --
NMNH 117630-5 Basalt Crater Elegante --
NMNH 117630-6 Basalt Crater Elegante --
NMNH 117630-7 Basalt Crater Elegante --
NMNH 117630-8 Basalt -- --
NMNH 117630-9 Basalt -- --
External Sites