Sunset Crater from the Cinder Hills
|Elevation||8,042 ft (2,451 m) NAVD 88|
|Location||Coconino County, Arizona, U.S.|
|Range||San Francisco volcanic field|
|Topo map||USGS Sunset Crater East|
|Age of rock||~950 years|
|Last eruption||1075 ± 25 years|
|Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument|
|Nearest city||Flagstaff, AZ|
|Area||3,040 acres (1,230 ha)|
|Established||May 26, 1930|
|Visitors||185,265 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
The date of the eruptions that formed the 340-meter-high cone (1,120 ft) was initially derived from tree-ring dates, suggesting the eruption began between the growing seasons of A.D. 1064–1065. However, more recent geologic and archaeological evidence places the eruption around A.D. 1085. The largest vent of the eruption, Sunset Crater itself, was the source of the Bonito and Kana-a lava flows that extended about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) NW and 9.6 kilometers (6 mi) NE, respectively. Additional vents along a 10-kilometer-long fissure (6.2 mi) extending SE produced small spatter ramparts and a 6.4-kilometer-long lava flow (4 mi) to the east. The Sunset Crater eruption produced a blanket of ash and lapilli covering an area of more than 2,100 square kilometers (810 sq mi) and forced the temporary abandonment of settlements of the local Sinagua people. The volcano has partially revegetated, with pines and wildflowers. The crater is the namesake for the Sunset Crater Beardtongue (Penstemon clutei). Since it erupted about 1,000 years ago, scientists can't really count it as extinct. It's most likely dormant.
The hiking trail below the summit skirts the substantial Bonito Lava Flow. This hardened lava is black and appears fresh as it has devastated the forest in its path. The lava flow also created an ice cave or tube that is now closed to the public after a partial collapse.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in the north-central part of the U.S. state of Arizona, created to protect Sunset Crater, a cinder cone within the San Francisco Volcanic Field. The monument is managed by the National Park Service in close conjunction with nearby Wupatki National Monument. In 1928, a Hollywood film company - Famous Players-Lasky Corporation - planned to detonate large quantities of explosives on the side of Sunset Crater in order to create an avalanche for Zane Grey's motion picture, Avalanche. Public outcry over this plan led in part to the proclamation of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument by President Herbert Hoover in 1930.
A one-mile (1.6 km), self-guided loop trail is located at the base of Sunset Crater, but hiking to the summit is not permitted. A trail providing access to the summit and crater was closed in 1973 because of excessive erosion caused by hikers. A visitor center is located near the park entrance, 15 miles (24 km) north of Flagstaff, Arizona, along U.S. Highway 89.
In popular culture
In James Rollins' seventh Sigma Force novel The Devil Colony, Painter Crowe takes a contingent to explore Sunset Crater and the Wupatki National Monument. During the course of their preparations and explorations, the group discusses the history of the people and geology at the two sites.
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- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
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- "Lava Flow Trail". Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. National Park Service. 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
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- "America's Best Idea: Sunset Crater nearly destroyed by Hollywood". KNAU, NPR. 2009-10-02.
- "Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument - People". National Park Service. 2007-03-20. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sunset Crater Volcano.|
- Official National Park Service Sunset Crater National Monument website
- Geology of Sunset Crater - USGS