Reading: New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains by Dirk Van Hart

Join us for a reading and conversation with Dirk Van Hart on Your Guide to the Sandia Mountains

February 24, 2024 at 2 PM.

Dirk Van Hart, retired petroleum geologist and noted local author, returns to the Placitas Community Library at 2 PM on February 24th to discuss and sign copies of his new book, “New Mexico’s Magnificent Sandia Mountain, The Complete Geological Story.” Van Hart previously has authored books about New Mexico’s camps and campsites of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, and an historical and geological guidebook to “Old Forty-Four”—now Highway 550. All three of his books will be available while he discusses the unique aspects of the new book on Sandia Mountain.

Placitas is in an enviable location, with splendid mountain views and ready trail access for most residents. The Placitas Library is underlain by younger rocks of the mountain shoulder, and its water supply relies on the cumulative annual snowmelt. Indeed, Placitas is very much a part of the story that Van Hart will describe.

The magnificent Sandia Mountain forms an enormous rampart towering over the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Regionally, the feature’s distinctive “whale back” profile utterly dominates the horizon within a huge area of central New Mexico. This book provides the complete geologic story of the mountain’s origin–a story given within the context of the greater American Southwest. The text is richly illustrated, producing a reader-friendly narrative understandable to the non-geologist. The mountain and its surroundings are the end-products of a long sequence of geologic events spanning a vast period of 1.7 billion years, but the uplift we call today’s Sandia Mountain was formed quite recently. In this way it differs in origin from the Rocky Mountains, which are located nearby but are much older. Paradoxically, then, what we see today is a relatively new mountain made from very old rocks.

–article by Jim Neal