No, Sunset Crater Volcano Is Not Erupting

We've seen a lot of chatter on the Interwebs today about Sunset Crater Volcano — specifically, that a "plume" erupted from the extinct volcano yesterday (Wednesday, June 3). Most of the social-media posts we're seeing cite a link from something called Dutchsinse. But the people who know best whether the volcano is erupting — that is, the people who actually work at Sunset Crater Volcano — assured us today that these reports are unfounded.

We reached out to Cecelia Shields, the chief of interpretation at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, to learn more. She passed along a news release that the monument issued today:

The National Park Service has received numerous inquiries about the possibility of current volcanic activity at Sunset Crater Volcano. The internet source of the purported eruption is based upon a black-and-white satellite image. The report is not from an academic source or part a scientific agency, such as the United States Geological Survey. Furthermore, no activity has been observed on the ground by park rangers staffing the national monument.

Sunset Crater Volcano, part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field, is an extinct cinder cone. Local cinder cones are created by a one-time eruption event and are not known to erupt more than once. Sunset Crater Volcano erupted over 900 years ago, making it the youngest cinder cone in a field of over 600 volcanoes. It is now extinct and not anticipated to erupt again.

So, there you have it. The release adds that the San Francisco Volcanic Field, of which Sunset Crater Volcano is a part, is still considered active, so there could be another eruption east of Flagstaff some time in the next 1,000 to 5,000 years. But one thing we know for sure is that it's not happening right now.

To learn more about Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, visit the park's website. Or, even better, visit the park!

Photo: Doug Koepsel | Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

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