"So at dawn we were on the edge of a vast malpais"
Malpais at El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
Creative Commons AttributionMalpais at El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico - Credit: Nick Mustoe

A malpaís (Spanish for ‘badlands’) is a landform characterised by eroded sedimentary rocks and usually associated with types of lava plain terrain found in volcanic fields.

These xeric places are found in arid environments in many parts of the world, but the malpaís is mainly associated with Spanish-speaking countries and the southwestern United States, where Spanish settlers gave the landform its name.