January 05, 2022

Standing in on a Rift

Standing in a Rift


ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – Here we are standing in the center of the Rio Grande Rift looking at one of the three Albuquerque Volcanoes (near right) in the Petroglyph National Monument. Thousands of years ago, these volcanoes – also called the Three Sisters – spewed lava into what is now a boulder-filled area on the other side of the volcanoes. These boulders were later used by American Indians and Spanish and Mexican settlers to create more than 20,000 petroglyphs. The American Indian tribes believe this area is one of the last preserved sacred spots providing a connection to their ancestors and the Spiritual World. The Sandia Mountains, in the center, are on the eastern edge of the rift. While the volcanoes are inactive, this rift is one of only few active rifts in the world. Here, the rock movement is causing the Sandia Mountains to rise and the Rio Grande Valley to widen and sink. Other active rifts include the East African Rift, the Rhine Graben in Germany and the Lake Baikal Rift in Russia. Continuing on this 1-mile trail, we are able to see a scenic view of the Rio Grande Valley, downtown Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains.

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