Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fire and Ice

We’re continuing our trip home.  We’ve left Utah and are in Grants, New Mexico.  We have not been here before and there is a lot of exploring to do in this area.

We like to get up early while it’s cool and do our sightseeing.  Unfortunately, we’re finding that the attractions in this area aren’t on our schedule.  Opening at 9:00 a.m. is not an “early” start, in our opinion. 

Our outing this morning was to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano (Land of Fire and Ice).  We stopped at the 1930’s trading post, paid our $12 and headed out. 

Along the path to the Crater are numerous stopping points. 

Spatter Cone.
Spatter cones are formed when minor vents form in the molten lava.  A surge of hot air rushes through the lava forming surface tubes and minor vents.  When the air breaks through the surface, lava will splash out forming a type of blow hole.

Natural ice box.
In the early days, there was ice present in the bottom of this cave.  It was used as a refrigerator long before electricity was available.

Lava Tubes.
This is part of a collapsed lava tube.  A lava tube is formed when the molten lava pours out of a volcano.  The surface hardens, while below, the lava continues to flow.  The porous lava acts as an insulator and keeps the lava hot beneath the surface.  This creates a pipeline of lava known as a lava tube.
Sink holes.
Sink holes are created when lava tubes collapse.

Anasazi Indian ruins.
Stacks of lava form a wall in front of this small cave.  The insulating properties of the lava made an ideal shelter. 
‘A’a lava.
‘A’a lava is composed of jagged, broken lava produced when the surface of the flow cools and hardens while underlying lava is still in motion.  This region is called El Malpais which is Spanish for “bad lands.”

After about a half mile hike we arrived at the crater.  
This volcano is a cinder cone.  The volcano began as the earth started to swell.  Eventually a crack broke open and high pressure lava began spraying out.  The molten rock hardened in mid air and fell back down to the ground as cinders.  As the eruption continued the cinder cone got larger and larger.

The Bandera Crater is the largest volcano in the region.  It erupted around 10,000 years ago.  There were two stages of eruption.  First the cinder cone developed, then a massive lava flow broke out the side.  The molten lava reached temperatures above 2,000 degrees.  The lava flow is nearly 23 miles long.  At the end of the eruption the lava fell back down the main vent making the bottom of the cone deeper than the outside lava flow.  This crater is nearly 1,400 feet wide at the top and roughly 800 feet deep.
The crater is slowly filling up as cinders and rocks fall down into it.

Next time:  Aaaaah, the ice cave.


  1. Well, there is another place to put on the "should visit" list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. And if "the plan" holds, we'll be there this fall :)

  3. Lots to do in this area. Hope yall make it!