Geology of Valles Caldera National Preserve

DESCRIPTION - The field trip includes learning about volcanology and paleontology as students will also be visiting Soda Dam and the Valles Caldera.

Valles Caldera National Preserve. Approximately 1.2 million years ago, Valles volcano in North-central New Mexico erupted so violently that it collapsed in on itself to form a caldera, or volcanic depression. Today, the remnants of this violent past can be seen throughout Valles Caldera National Preserve. While ancient lava and ash deposits tell us how Valles once erupted, the hot bubbling springs we still see there indicate the presence of still-hot magma deep beneath the ground. Valles is famous as the location where geologists first figured out how calderas form. Students will -

  • play the role of these geologists, deciphering the story of an eruption that changed New Mexico's landscape; and
  • measure volcanic gases that still escape from the magma chamber to help determine how likely it is that Valles will one day erupt again.
  • Transportation, lunch, water and snacks are provided for the field trip.

PREP SESSION - Thursday, October 4 from 2 to 3 pm in the STEM Collaborative Center Classroom, EDU 212 (bldg 67 on campus map).

Students will learn about two geological concepts to gain an understanding of the Valles landscape -

  • the formation of calderas through the observation of lava domes; and
  • the heat flow through a caldera by measuring the temperature and gas of bubbling springs

FIELD TRIP - Saturday, October 6 from 9 am to 5 pm

  • 9 am - SIGN-IN in the STEM Collaborative Center Classroom, EDU 212
  • 9:20 am - depart UNM campus
  • 5:00 pm - arrive UNM campus


  • attend Thursday, October 4 prep session
  • must be able to hike 2 miles
  • must wear closed-toe shoes or hiking boots, comfortable or loose-fitting clothes, hat and sunglasses
  • must bring small back-pack to carry water - water will be provided


  • Kristen Rahilly, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Kristen conducts research with Dr. Tobias P. Fischer, Professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director, Volatiles Laboratory.
  • Camille Dwyer, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Camille's research is focused on paleontology and conducts research with Dr. Corinne Myers, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences.
Registration Deadline: Oct 3, 2018

Event Details

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Instructor: Kristen Rahilly and Camille Dwyer, Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences
Who can attend: Undergraduate Students - freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to register!
Meet at: Prep Session: 2 to 3 pm on Thursday, October 4
Location: STEM Collaborative Center Classroom, EDU 212 (bldg. 67 on campus)
What to bring: Your curiosity!
Days: Prep Session: Thur., Oct 4 from 2-3 pm; Field Trip: Sat., Oct 6 from 9 am-5 pm
Type: Project + Trip

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