New Mexico, United States
Mount Taylor (Diné: Tsoodził) is a stratovolcano in northwest New Mexico, northeast of the town of Grants. It is the high point of the San Mateo Mountains and the highest point in the Cibola National Forest. It was named in 1849 for then president Zachary Taylor. Prior to that, it was called Cebolleta (tender onion) by the Spanish; the name persists as one name for the northern portion of the San Mateo Mountains, a large mesa. Mount Taylor is largely forested, rising like a blue cone above the desert below. Its slopes were an important source of lumber for neighboring pueblos.
To the Navajo people, Mount Taylor is Tsoodził, the turquoise mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions and the boundaries of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. Mount Taylor marks the southern boundary, and is associated with the direction south and the color blue; it is gendered female. In Navajo mythology, First Man created the sacred mountains from soil from the Fourth World, together with sacred matter, as replicas of mountains from that world. He fastened Mount Taylor to the earth with a stone knife. The supernatural beings Black God, Turquoise Boy, and Turquoise Girl are said to reside on the mountain.
Mount Taylor is also sacred to the Acoma, Laguna and Zuni people.
Mount Taylor was active from 3.3 to 1.5 million years ago
during the Pliocene, and is surrounded by a field of smaller inactive volcanoes. Repeated eruptions built lava domes and produced lava flows, ash plumes, and mudflows. The mountain is surrounded by a great volume of volcanic debris, suggesting multiple major eruptions, possibly similar to that of Mount Saint Helens and the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Estimates vary about how high the mountain was at its highest. Conservative estimates place its maximum near a similar pre-explosion height for the San Francisco Peaks of 16000 to 18000 feet, and an extreme estimate places it near 25000 feet.
Mount Taylor is very rich in a uranium-vanadium bearing mineral, and was mined extensively for it from 1979 to 1990. The Mount Taylor and the hundreds of other uranium mines on Pueblo lands have provided over thirteen million tons of uranium ore to the United States since 1945.
Concern has arisen regarding the impact of future mining activities on the site. In June 2008 the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee voted in favor of a one year emergency listing of more than 422000 acres surrounding the mountain’s summit on the state Register of Cultural Properties. "The Navajo Nation, the Acoma, Laguna and Zuni pueblos, and the Hopi tribe of Arizona asked the state to approve the listing for a mountain they consider sacred to protect it from an anticipated uranium mining boom, according to the nomination report."
In April 2009, Mount Taylor was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's Most Endangered Places.