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Roger Weller, geology instructor

wellerr@cochise.edu
                                 

Chiricahuas
Charles Garrett
Physical Geology
Spring 2006
 

              A View of the Chiricahua Mountains: From the Air

 

             Just a few miles from Sierra Vista is a beautiful example of what can happen when volcanoes erupt; along with the unique shapes they can form over a period of time.  I wanted to see for myself just what the Chiricahuas were like... from the air.
 

Brief History:  Twenty-seven million years ago during the Tertiary age, from a caldera of a resurgent volcano in the southeastern corner of what is now Arizona; erupted.  The eruption is estimated to be nearly one thousand times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Turkey Creek Caldera eruption eventually laid down two thousand feet of highly siliceous ash and pumice (National Park Service.)  Over a long period of time, ash from the Turkey Creek Caldera was spewed out, the ash hardened into an igneous rock known as rhyolite, which now is what makes up the Chiricahua Mountains.  The Chiricahua Mountains formed also from this rock upheaval, and then the masters of erosion- water, wind and ice which started shaping the rock into odd formations.

                   

 Rhyolite: A very fine grained igneous rock, formed by welded tuff. (Courtesy of Roger Weller)
 

The Flight:  From the flight I was able to get a clear view of the beautiful 12,000 acres that the Chiricahua Mountains consist of.  It was a very turbulent flight, but I was able to get the pictures I wanted.
 

   

 preparing DA-887DC for the flight (left) & the takeoff (right).

 


 

        

There are three main valleys in the Chiricahuas, and we entered in north of Rustler valley into what is call Turkey Creek Caldera.

 

 

           

Looking down the valley of the Turkey Creek Caldera.  You can make out the tall Rhyolite columns; as they fill this beautiful valley.

 

  

 

Just a few hundred feet above the Turkey Creek Caldera, we can see the distinct structure of the rhyolite.
 

 

As we were leaving, I did a quick 360 to get a far view of Turkey Creek and what is called “Cochise's Head.”

 

After a safe landing, we officially completed the trip to the Chiricahua Mountains.

 

References

National Park Service.  “Chiricahua.”
http://www.nps.gov/chir/
 

San Simon Living Legacy. “Beneath the Chiricahua’s: Past and Present.”
http://www.sansimon.k12.az.us/san%20simon/web%20pages/chirmnt%20.html
 

Southeastern Bird Obsivatory. “The Chiricahua’s.”
http://www.sabo.org/birding/chirsulp.htm
 

The American Southwest. “The Chiricahua Mountains.”
http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/chiricahua
 

Weller, Roger. “Pictures of Rhyolite”
http://skywalker.cochise.edu/wellerr/aawellerweb.htm