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Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe and little Hebe craters
Over a dozen volcanoes dot the landscape of Ubehebe volcanic field. Ubehebe Crater is the largest and youngest volcanic feature, Little Hebe crater is at lower right. Photo by Peter Sanchez, NPS

spacer image At the edge of Ubehebe Crater, you'll be greeted by an eerie, surreal landscape. All is quiet now, but imagine yourself transported to a time just over two thousand years ago...
spacer image ...Following weaknesses in the Earth’s crust, searing basaltic magma rose upward. A fault along the base of Tin Mountain, responsible for uplift of the entire mountain range, lay in the path of the molten mass, providing an easy escape route to the surface.

Fire and water

spacer image Magma worked its way through the fault-weakened rock where it met water-soaked bedrock and alluvial fan sediments. In an instant, water flashed to steam. A sudden, violent release of steam-powered energy blasted away the confining rock above. A dense, ground-hugging cloud of rocky debris surged out from the base at up to 100 miles/hour, decimating the landscape.
View inside Ubehebe Crater
A look into the depths of Ubehebe Crater, the largest and youngest volcanic feature at this stop. The eruptions that created Ubehebe Crater blasted through older conglomerate layers, now revealed in the crater walls. Photo by W.R. Jones, NPS.

spacer image The largest of these eruptions produced Ubehebe Crater, over a half a mile wide and 770 feet deep. Up to 150 feet of rock debris mantles the countryside near the site of the explosion.
spacer image Over a dozen other explosion craters and tuff rings in the Ubehebe Crater field are the result of this type of hydrovolcanic eruption.
Ubehebe in time
geologic time scale
If you're going... Split Cinder Cone image gallery
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This page was last updated on 7/5/00
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