Igneous Dikes of the Southwestern U.S.


Igneous Dike

Igneous Dike

One of the more interesting aspects of the Southwestern United States is the geology.  And one of the standout geological formations you can find in this area is something called an igneous or magmatic dike.  If you ever stumble across one of these features you’ll not soon forget the experience.

West Spanish Peak with Dikes

West Spanish Peak with Dikes

In my travels through this area I have come across two incredible examples — West Spanish Peak in Southeastern Colorado, and Shiprock in Northwestern New Mexico.  What makes these formations so visually impressive are the shear walls of igneous rock that radiate outward from them like some gigantic fortification.

Igneous Dike

West Spanish Peak and Igneous Dike

Of the two I think Shiprock is the more impressive.  Alas, I did not get very many shots of the more impressive dikes stretching across the high desert plain just east of the Carrizo Mountains.  I guess that’s my excuse for going back into the Four Corners Area.

Shiprock

Shiprock

Your first sight of Shiprock as you descend through the Carrizo’s will indeed leave you awestruck.  As you get even closer the immense size of this “Rock with Wings” becomes readily apparent, for it rises 1,583 feet (482 meters) above the surrounding desert plain.

Shiprock with Igneous Dike radiating left

Shiprock with Igneous Dike radiating right

Spanish Peak on the other hand is a much taller mountain (3,686 feet/1,123 meters above the nearby terrain) taking up a much greater area in the wilderness in the San Isabel National Forest west of Interstate 25 between Walsenburg and Trinidad, Colorado.

West Spanish Peak

West Spanish Peak

San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest

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3 Comments

Filed under Photography, travel

3 responses to “Igneous Dikes of the Southwestern U.S.

  1. Gorgeous photos, Doug. The term “dike” threw me for a moment, because dikes are something quite different here in Europe and I thought, “Why would they have dikes in a region with very little water?” But then, we don’t really have this kind of geological formation.over here.

  2. Mike

    Your photos drew my attention to WHY? and HOW does this happen. I have been on the internet searching for the answers. Thanks for the visual geology.