Oklahoma’s Highest Point Is Home to Volcanic Activity
When you think of Oklahoma, you don't think of giant mountains or big volcanoes. But at Oklahoma's highest point is remnants of volcanic activity.
Black Mesa is located in the Oklahoma Panhandle in Cimarron County. With an elevation of 4,972.97 feet, it's the highest point in Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Black Mesa plateau is considered a geological wonder of North America. It's where the Rocky Mountains meets the shortgrass prairie.
Is there a volcano in Oklahoma?
The short answer is no, there are no volcanoes in Oklahoma. But the Sooner State has known volcanic activity, and remnants can be seen at Black Mesa State Park. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, "this three-million-year-old basalt lava flow, measuring fifty-five miles long, six hundred feet thick, and one-half to eight miles wide, originated from a Colorado volcano named Piney Mountain sixty-five miles north-northwest of Oklahoma." Other than that, no other place in Oklahoma has seen any kind of volcanic activity.
So Oklahoma got its highest point, Black Mesa, because of a volcanic eruption! And today it's home some amazing sites and discoveries. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, "since 1935 the location has provided geologists and paleontologists rare opportunities to examine Jurassic and Triassic rocks and the dinosaur bones in them. More than eighteen tons of camptosaurus, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, diplodocus, and edmontosaurus bones have been quarried at Black Mesa. A string of allosaurus footprints can be seen clearly along Carrizo Creek just north of the mesa itself."
Could Oklahoma see more volcanic activity in the future?
Lately, there's been a stir around the world with various volcanoes erupting, including Italy's Mount Etna and a volcano in Iceland. But even with this latest activity, it's highly unlikely since the last volcanic activity seen in Oklahoma was over three million years ago.
Although, a portion of the Oklahoma Panhandle is included in the Raton-Clayton volcanic field (RCVF). The RCVF "is a large volcanic field covering nearly 7500 square miles of northeastern New Mexico and adjoining Colorado and Oklahoma," and "is the eastern-most young volcanic field in North America."
And since it's a volcanic field, it consists of clusters of many small volcanoes instead of one big one. According to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, "the distinctive characteristic of the Raton-Clayton field is its great size, young age, continental interior setting, and possible association with one of the few volcanic hot spots in the world."
So a volcano erupting in Oklahoma's Black Mesa is, again, highly unlikely but nothing can ever be 100 percent ruled out!
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