The Valles Caldera is in the Jemez Mountains Volcanic Field of New Mexico and it is surrounded by spectacular examples of geology and volcanism. The Jemez Mountain volcanic field began forming 13 million years ago and resulted in the formation of numerous smaller eruptions and two caldera forming eruptions. The Toledo Caldera formed about 1.47 million years ago and later the Valles Caldera formed almost in the exact same footprint 1.12 million years ago. All the activity happened along the Jemez Lineament that runs from east central Arizona to southeast Colorado and it was particularly explosive at the intersection of the Rio Grande Rift which is where the Valles Caldera was formed. Large volumes of ash were ejected from the combined magma chambers; major eruption ash has been found as far away as Kansas. The chemistry of the magma and the geologic features make the Valles Caldera a world-class example of a ring fracture caldera.

Geology Curriculum Implementation

Implementation of the Geology units should be in the order of formation starting with Geologic History followed by Caldera Formation, Magma Chemistry, and Caldera Hydrology. The units are built on the concept that the earth is dynamic. The video clips from Valles Caldera: The Science present the trail of evidence that researchers follow when they take a closer look at how the systems are interconnected. Through labs, activities and with the help of resources, students will see crosscutting concepts at work in the geology, biology, chemistry and physics of the Valles Caldera.