Cinder Cone Crater in Utah

April 30, 2014



Photographer: Brent Watson
Summary Author: Brent Watson

Returning from a west-central Utah flyover, I was surprised to look down and see this crater. I immediately wondered if it was the remnant of a meteor fall. A phone call to the Utah Geological Survey dispelled that notion, and let me know that it is instead of volcanic origin.
DSC_8182 (1)There are two main types of volcanic craters: cinder cones and maars. A cinder cone is formed when magma comes to the surface and cools. A maar takes shape when hot magma meets groundwater. The groundwater is turned to steam and the resultant explosion forms a crater. To discover which type of crater this was I journeyed to the site to investigate. The bottom photo was taken inside the crater. It became evident from the volcanic cinders (inset at left) around this crater that it's, in fact, a highly eroded cinder cone -- about 30 ft (9.5 m) deep. Crater photo taken on April 26, 2003. Ground photos snapped on March 28, 2014.
Photo Details: Top: None - Middle and Bottom: Camera: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm); Aperture: f/14.0; Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800); ISO equiv: 1000; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows.