Tsé Bitʼaʼí

That’s the Navajo name for what everybody else calls Shiprock. It’s a rock spire that rises out of the desert southeast of Four Corners in the far northwestern corner of New Mexico. Elevation at the peak is 7,177 feet, with a prominence of 1,583 feet.

Technically, it’s what geologists call a monadnock, an inselberg, or a volcanic neck or plug. By whatever name, it’s what remains of a volcano that was active 27 million years ago, in the Oligocene epoch, one among many volcanic perforations of what later became the American southwest. Radiating in three directions from the center are long volcanic dikes,: walls of intrusive rock that formed were once, like Shiprock, lava. From the air they give Shiprock the look of a giant symbol.

I’ve been wanting to shoot pictures of Shiprock for years, but flights east to and from from LAX tend to go a bit north of there, and since I like to shoot out the shady (usually northern) side of the plane, I’ve tended to miss it. But my flight from LAX to BOS on Sunday took an unusually southern route, and I got a good view, though it was hazy.

Got lots of other good stuff too, but it was easy to put this one up first.

[Later…] Just found I’ve shot it before, from the north side, in 2008. See here.

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One Response to Tsé Bitʼaʼí

  1. Paul Bouzide says:

    Oh man that’s fantastic. I’ve enjoyed many an aerial image from you, but this is the one that moved me to comment…

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