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LOCATION: Located in northeast New Mexico about 25 miles southeast of Raton. It is accessed via HWY 64/87 and then north along SH 325, 3 miles north of Capulin.


GEOLOGIC FEATURES: Cinder Cone Volcano; Cinders, Ash; Crater; Angle of Repose; Lava Bomb.


DESCRIPTION: Capulin Volcano has been described as a perfectly symmetrical Cinder Cone Volcano. It lies within the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field which covers over 8000 sq. mi. of Northeast New Mexico. This field began to form in the Miocene (9 mya) and continued into the Pleistocene (40,000 ya). Hundreds of volcanoes surround Capulin which is located within the center of the Field.

Capulin volcano formed during a single eruptive episode and is composed mainly of volcanic cinders, ash, and some blobs of congealed lava along with several small lava flows that originated at the base of the volcano. Its volcanic activity has been dated at about 60,000 years ago. The origin of the magma is uncertain. Some have suggested that it is the result of crustal weakness due to a former rifting event.

The bowl-shaped crater of Capulin measures about 1 mile in diameter and is over 400 ft deep.  The cone itself rises over 1000 ft above the plains.



(1) Besides Cinder Cone Volcanoes, what are the two other types of volcanoes.

(2) Why is the Angle of Repose of a Cinder Cone Volcano so high?

(3) Name and define the particles that compose a Cinder Cone Volcano.

(4) How is a Lava Bomb formed?

(5) Capulin is often compared to Paracutin Volcano in Mexico. Provide a brief geologic history of Paracutin.

(6) CHALLENGE: What might cause the lava forming a Cinder Cone Volcano to differ from that forming a Shield Volcano? 


-Harris, D.V. and E.P. Kiver. 1985 (4th ed.). The Geologic Story of the National Parks and Monuments, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 464 pp.

-New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field: Capulin Volcano. Accessed on Jan. 26, 2020:

-National Park Service. Capulin Volcano - Volcanic fields. Accessed on Jan 26, 2020:


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Figure 1 - Capulin Volcano. Notice the roadway about halfway up the Cinder Cone Volcano which winds up to the top of the volcano.

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Figure 2 - At the volcano top, looking into the crater.

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Figure 3 - At the top of Capulin Volcano are signs for visitors to learn more about the volcano.

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Figure 4 -  A panoramic view from the top of Capulin showing the many scattered  volcanoes of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field seen especially well on the horizon.

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Figure 5 - Sierra Madre volcano, located a few miles southeast of Capulin rises 2,200 ft above the plains and is the tallest volcano in the Raton-Clayton Field.  

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