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Regional Geology of North America

High Plains of Eastern New Mexico

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The High Plains region on the western side of the Edwards Plateau (west of the Mescalero Escarpment) is a piedmont region of Southern Rocky Mountains (see Figure 79). It is rolling prairie country with scattered oak-forest covered hills and grasslands with many playas (dry lake beds). During wet periods the playas are flooded, but dry out during drought periods. The High Plains region experiences occasional strong winter snowstorms, summer thunderstorms and intense wind events, the source of large dust clouds that move eastward across the southern Great Plains region.

The High Plains of eastern New Mexico are also transitional to the general geology of the Basin and Range Physiographic Province (characterized by extensional faulting and rift volcanism). The Sacramento Mountains border the Rio Grande Rift Valley, a great structural graben that marks the eastern margin of the Basin and Range Province. In northeastern New Mexico is the geologically "young" Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field started forming about 9 million years ago, with the last eruption having occurred about 50,000 years ago (Figure 82).
The Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field near Capulin Volcano National Monument, northeastern New Mexico.
Fig. 82. The Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field located in northeastern New Mexico, includes a young cinder cone, featured in Capulin Volcano National Monument.     1/20/2017
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