Caves of the Badlands: A Geospatial Analysis of Cave Archaeology at El Malpais National Monument

Author(s): Jennifer McCrackan; Eric Weaver

Year: 2017


The El Malpais National Monument located roughly 100 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, borders the southern part of the San Juan Basin and the southeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau. The extensive geologic history of volcanic activity has created a seemingly hellish volcanic field rightfully named "the badlands" by Spanish explorers. However, the region is in fact home to a rich cultural history that heavily utilizes the natural environment, including its many cave systems. The lava flows themselves contain vast ancient trail systems that are poorly understood at present and have only recently become a topic of research. In the summer of 2016, locational data and assessment reports concerning the park’s over 400 recorded subterranean features were collected in order to produce a geospatial distribution map of those with archaeological significance. A preliminary examination of the distribution in relation to the park as a whole, as well as site comparisons by type and location are presented. This data will then be compared with prehistoric trail data collected from past archaeological surveys to assess a possible relationship between the caves and the trails.

Cite this Record

Caves of the Badlands: A Geospatial Analysis of Cave Archaeology at El Malpais National Monument. Jennifer McCrackan, Eric Weaver. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429673)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17262