For other active volcanoes in Mexico, see the Natural hazards-volcanism subfield in the Geography section. The pockmarked terrain of Pinacate National Park in Sonora province, shown in this enhanced satellite image, provides evidence of a violent geologic past.Among hundreds of volcanic vents and cinder cones are rare maar craters, formed when rising magma met underground water to create pockets of steam that blew nearly circular holes in the overlying crust.Due to persistent cloud cover, obtaining conventional high-altitude photos of this region is extrordinarily difficult.Radar's ability to penetrate clouds and make 3-D measurements allowed scientists to generate the first complete high-resolution topographic map of the entire region.American astronauts used this area in 1965-70 to train for lunar excursions; surrounding the region are the vast sand dune fields of Gran Desierto de Altar. This high-resolution satellite image shows part of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, on the border between the Coahuila and Nuevo Leon provinces of eastern Mexico.This range is part of the Sierra Madre Mountains that divide Mexico, and which also include the Sierra Madre Occidental on the West coast and the Sierra Madre del Sur in southern Mexico.
This mountain range is drier than the rainforest areas to the south. The snow and ice-clad peak of Pico de Orizaba (also known as Citlaltepetl) boasts a summit elevation of 5,675 m (18,619 ft) above sea level, making it the highest peak in Mexico and North America's highest volcano.
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It is also one of three volcanic peaks in Mexico - together with Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl - that retain summit glaciers.
Pico de Orizaba is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt that extends roughly east-west across Mexico.