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Carrizozo Malpais facts for kids

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The Carrizozo Malpais is the long dark streak across the bottom half of the image. The red arrowhead marks the location of Trinity site. Sierra Blanca is visible at lower right. The low ridge toward the top of the photo is the Oscura Mountains. Credit: NASA Astronaut photograph ISS008-E-5604, taken at an altitude of 193 miles (311 km).

The Carrizozo Malpais is a large lava flow on the west side of Carrizozo, New Mexico, on the northern part of the Tularosa Basin between Sierra Blanca to the southeast and the Oscura Mountains to the west.

The lava making up the flow came from Little Black Peak, about 10 miles (16 km) north-northwest of Carrizozo. It reached about 40 miles (64 km) south-southwest along the bottom of Tularosa Basin in two active flows. Initial age estimates ranged from 1,000 to 1,500 years ago, but recent cosmogenic dating techniques revealed the eruption date is 5200 ± 700 years ago. At their southern end, the lava flows are about 12 miles (19 km) north of the dune fields of White Sands National Park. The Carrizozo Woman's Club helped protect this state area.

The Valley of Fires Recreation Area provides access to the Malpaís on its east edge, about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Carrizozo on U.S. Route 380. The highway has several scenic overlooks where it crosses the Malpaís. The entire extent of the flow can be seen from higher elevations to the east on U.S. Route 380. The Trinity (nuclear test), first atomic bomb detonation site, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest.

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