Archive - Ubehebe Crater

December 11, 2021


Every weekend we present a notable item from our archives.

This EPOD was originally published July 4, 2016.

Photographer: Dave Lynch
Summary Author: Dave LynchJuly 2016 Viewer's Choice

Ubehebe Crater, shown at top, lies at the north end of the Cottonwood Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California. Only about a half mile across (0.8 km) and a few hundred feet deep, it's nonetheless one of the most beautiful and accessible volcanoes in the world. It was formed by a phreatomagmatic eruption, in which upward moving magma encountered subsurface water. The water flashed into steam and the resulting explosion fractured existing overlying rock and expelled massive amounts of sediment and bits of lava called lapilli. While there are countless volcanic lapilli in the area, no surface magma flow occurred. Another smaller volcanic crater, Little Ubehebe (at middle), is found nearby. Satellite imagery (bottom) show a dark blanket of ejecta covering the area. The Ubehebe volcanics are relatively young, 800 – 7000 years old, though the exact age remains uncertain. Photos taken on February 8, 2016.

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