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Bonito Lava Flow view. Photo by Melanei Moreno, 10/98
View of cinder-covered slopes seen from the trail.

How about going on a volcanic field trip?

The Bonito Lava Flow is one of several flows that streamed out from the base of Sunset Crater Volcano about 930 years ago. The 1200° C (2200° Fahrenheit) liquid formed a river of black lava that inundated over four and a half square kilometers (almost two square miles) of the landscape before it cooled and solidified.

You'll be walking on the rocky surface of Bonito Lava Flow on this virtual field trip. You may travel along by clicking on the field trip map below or use the table of contents to select your itinerary. Each stop starts off with the basics, but why not click on any of the images, scientific terms or ‘side trips’ to find out more?

Put on your walking shoes and let’s go!


Bubbling basalt: Molten rock invades the Colorado Plateau

Side trip: Take a closer look at a monster vesicle...


Colors of Sunset


Lichens: the first to return



Side trip: Another of Sunset Crater’s great squeeze-ups


How to build a cinder cone

Side trip: Hot stuff! Compare Sunset Crater with an active cinder cone in Hawaii-Pu'u 'O'o


Lava takes a short-cut

Side trip: visit a nearby lava tube (Coming in May, 1999)
Side trip: Lava tubes in Hawaii


Miniature volcanoes

Side trip: Spatter cones in action


The San Francisco Peaks

Stops 9-13 are under construction. Visit us again in August!

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This site is a cooperative endeavor of the
US Geological Survey Western Earth Surface Processes Team
and the National Park Service.
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This page was last updated on 7/10/99