El Elegante (Spanish for elegant one) is a maar (a type of volcanic crater) located in the Gran Desierto de Altar in the Sonoran Desert, Mexico.

Crater walls of El Elegante, seen from the rim.

At 250 metres (820 ft) deep and 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) across, it is the largest in the volcanic complex of Pinacate Peaks.

Formation edit

The crater was formed about 32,000 years ago when groundwater seeping down into the earth came into contact with magma rising from beneath the crust. The hot magma instantly turned the water to steam, and the sudden high pressure triggered a phreatomagmatic explosion, blowing a huge hole in the ground, and blasting out rocks, magmatic material and ash, forming the crater. Ejecta was spread out to a distance of about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the crater over what is now the desert floor.[1] The crater rim is higher than the surrounding desert and shows layers of rock built up from the ejecta.[2]

El Elegante contained a lake during the pluvial period preceding the last altithermal period.[3]

Biosphere Reserve edit

The crater is located in an important area and nature reserve called El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012. It functions as a natural park; El Elegante is the crater most visited by tourists.[4]

References edit

  1. ^ "La UNESCO declaró hace unas semanas a la zona, como Patrimonio Natural de la Humanidad". Informador.mx. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Elegante Crater, Pinacate". Archive Bio. ED AC. Desert Ecology. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Geología". El Pinacate CONAMP. Reserva de la biosfera de El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar. Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ Barragán, Salatiel (23 July 2010). "El Pinacate Y Gran Desierto De Altar, Sonora". México Desconocido. Retrieved 19 August 2016.

31°50′48″N 113°23′29″W / 31.8467°N 113.3913°W / 31.8467; -113.3913