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Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater was formed when a volcano erupted sometime between 1040 and 1100. The cone is 1000 feet above the surface here and is at an elevation of 8029 feet. The cone is 2250 feet in diameter and 300 feet deep. During this eruption over a billion tons of material was ejected and covered 800 square miles. The eruption was a major event in the lives of the people living in what is now Northern Arizona.
Sunset Crater is a cinder cone type of volcano as are most of the in this field. Cinder cones tend to have slopes of less than 33 degrees and are made of a pile of loose fragments. This makes these type of slopes easy to erode. For many years people were allowed to climb to the top of the crater causing lots of damage to the terrain. Only now, years after people were banned from the cone is this damage recovering.

Native American Beliefs and Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater figures prominently in the beliefs of several area Native American Tribes. The Hopi believe their ancestor's spirits (Katsinas) travel from the San Francisco Peaks to the Hopi Villages and back each year via Sunset Crater (Palatsmo) and Bonito Park. Some deities reside in the area. The Pueblo of Zuni believe considers Sunset Crater to be a part of a larger sacred landscape. The Navajo People consider the volcanoes around the San Francisco Peaks (Dook'o'oosliid) including Sunset Crater (Dzil k'idzitsooi) the guardians or protectors of the Dook'o'oosliid. Within these peaks reside Navajo deities who are honored every day with offerings.

Other Types of Volcanoes

There are two other types of volcanoes: nearby O'Leary Peak is one of the other types of volcano called a dome. Dome type volcanoes are rounded. The San Francisco Peaks represent a third type of volcano a composite or stratovolcano. This type has steep peaks and less steep sides. Mount St Helens and Mount Fuji are also stratovolcanoes.

  • Last visit to Sunset Crater National Monument: Oct 2008
  • Intro Written Oct 25, 2008
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Comments (1)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2009 at 1:58 PM

    You got some wonderful pictures-I am posting my pics soon and believe this was one of the more interesting unique parks of the ones I saw. The landscape of lava is to remember.


“As for me, I'll take the road less traveled.”

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