Monaro is a plateau region in New South Wales, Australia, just east of the Snowy Mountains, situated approximately 1,000 feet above sea level. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the area's unique geological topography created millions of years ago by extensive volcanic activity.
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Leading volcanologists believe that Monaro erupted some 630 cubic kilometers of lava over a 20 million year period, starting approximately 55 million years ago and ending about 37 million years ago. It has been dormant since then.
The Monaro plateau's lava fields cover an area of about 4,200 square kilometers and contain 65 volcanic plugs. A plug, also called a lava neck, is formed when magma emerges from a vent in the Earth's surface and hardens to create a volcanic land form.
Australia has many volcanic regions, with the earliest eruptions dating about 71 million years, the majority occurring between 20 and 35 million years ago, and some as recently as 3,000 years ago. Monaro is deemed to be one of the oldest, and its activity is thought to be associated with rifting of the continent and upwelling of the Earth's mantle.
The Monaro region is distinguished by sweeping plains separated by flat-topped mesas that were created by stacks of hardened lava and round-topped hills centered over volcanic plugs, weathered by years of erosion.
Unique rock walls were formed in the region when lava reacted with the area's water bodies. These walls are characterized by black pillow basalt deposits, a reddish layer of pyroclastic rock and sometimes even traces of fossilized wood.
Article Written By Mark Heidelberger
Mark Heidelberger has been writing for more than 17 years, with recent articles appearing on various websites. He has also written, rewritten and developed dozens of feature-film screenplays and manages a number of film and television writers. He holds a master's degree from University of California, Los Angeles in film and television producing.