Land of Fire and Ice

Land of Fire and Ice

Just outside Grants lies the geologic wonder of El Malpais.  The El Malpais National Monument covers an area of 178 square miles.  The lava flows in the area date from 700,000 years ago to as recent as 3,000 years ago.  Cinder cones, lava tubes, and a myriad of features tell of the area's fiery past.  The lava tubes and caves in the area may resemble those thought to exist on Mars and our moon.  In some of the lava tubes and caves, ice exists year-round. The layers of ice have been forming for thousands of years and are made possible by a unique combination of conditions that form a natural ice box. Some of the ice glistens blue-green in light due to arctic algae. 

According to the Diné creation story, the Twin War Gods slayed the monster Yé'iitsoh (Big God) on nearby Tsoodzil (Mount Taylor)(Turquoise Mountain), and it was his blood, that coagulated and solidified to form the black lava flows of El Malpais. The Diné call the area "Where Big God's Blood Coagulated".