A gigantic lava flow photographed in the heart of the American desert

NASA managed to capture the full length of Carrizozo Malpaís, a large basaltic lava flow, located in New Mexico. Adobe Stock

NASA managed to capture Carrizozo Malpaís in its entirety, a 75 kilometer long lava formation.

Seen from the sky, it forms a black scar in the desert. A very long point of reference of which four shots were enough to capture its entire extension. This is the work done by an unidentified astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The latter took photos of Carrizozo Malpaís, a large basaltic lava flow located in New Mexico, a state in the southwestern United States, reveals a NASA press release released on September 26.

The various shots, taken on 30 June 2022, cover the approximately 33,700 hectares and 75 kilometers in length of the formation. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this lava flow, in the heart of the Chihuahua desert, is the result of an eruption that occurred about 5000 years ago and which would have lasted between 20 and 30 years. During this time, magma slowly flowed from a shield volcano [volcan qui se caractérise par des coulées de lave fluide]currently inactive. “The lava flow is one of the longest known on Earth in the last 10,000 years”reveals the USGS.

Carrizozo Malpaís is a lava flow whose length is unprecedented. It took four NASA snaps to do it all. NASA Earth Observatory

Highly detailed aerial images

As Live Science reports, most of the lava came from a volcanic cone – a clump of ash and slag from one or more eruptions – 27 meters high, which locals refer to as the “Little Black Peak”. . It is one of the highest points of the shield volcano, completes NASA. The lighter areas of the images correspond to cracks and collapses caused by the formation of lava with aging.

Known for a long time, the Carrizozo Malpaís could not be captured in detail. The latest images released by NASA are the most detailed aerial images ever taken of the lava flow. Contrary to what its dark color might suggest, the latter did not prevent life from appearing. Some plant species have grown, characteristic of desert environments, such as prickly pear or juniper.

Humans have also left their mark. A road cuts the territory north of the lava flow in two. There is also a railway line nearby. Many traces that show the importance of Carrizozo Malpaís in the surrounding landscape.


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