Explore Geology
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Aztec Ruins

National Monument

New Mexico

cover of park brochure

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Photo of reconstructed ruins at Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Ruins Naitonal Monument, New Mexico

Aztec Ruins is located midway between two other famous Anasazi ruins - Chaco Canyon 65 miles to the south and Mesa Verde 40 miles northwest. The name of Aztec Ruins is actually misleading because the ruins were not actually built by the Aztecs of central Mexico. In fact, the Aztecs lived centuries after the rise and fall of this Anasazi town. Misled Anglo settlers, inspired by tales of the Aztecs and Cortez named the ruins and the nearby town after the Aztecs.

The first recorded visitor to the ruins was a geologist by the name of Dr. John Newberry in 1859. He found the pueblo to be in fair state of preservation. Because no one had really been there, most of the ruins were intact with some walls reaching 25 feet high and some rooms completely undisturbed. Sadly, Dr. Newberry neglected to uncover a lot of the ruins and they were left susceptible to looting. It was not until 1889 that the ruins came under private ownership and the looting ceased.

The ruins are situated in a dry area of northern New Mexico. The main feature which made the ruins liveable is their proximity to the Animas River. This river flows year round across the plains and near the ruins flows through a lush valley which made fertile lands available to farmers who wished to raise crops nearby. The fertile lands supported large populations in the area during ancient times.

park maps subheading

The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.

View the park's map to create your own personal maps and images right here.

For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.

photo album subheading

A geology photo album for this park can be found here.

For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.

books, videos, cds subheading

Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.

Please visit the Geology Books and Media webpage for additional sources such as text books, theme books, CD ROMs, and technical reports.

Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
ISBN 0-393-92407-6
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout

The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!

Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.

geologic research subheading

For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.

The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.

A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.

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NPS Geology and Soils Partners

NRCS logoAssociation of American State Geologists
NRCS logoGeological Society of America
NRCS logoNatural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
USGS logo U.S. Geological Survey

teacher feature subheading

Aztec Ruins National Monument welcomes and encourages teachers and students to use the monument as an "outdoor classroom." Rangers are willing to assist teachers as much as our limited staff allows.

General information about the park's education and intrepretive programs is available on the park's education webpage.

For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.
updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://nature.nps.gov/geology/parks/azru/index.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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