Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley

In the Death Valley, you can find a large volcanic crater “Uhehebe” located at the north trip of Cottonwood Mountain. It is one of the many unique geologic features of Death Valley, which is believed, somewhere 2000 to 7000 years old. The Uhehebe Crater is one kilometer wide and 777 feet deep. Ubehebe Crater is a maars volcano. The formation was made when magma migrated close to the surface and heat caused groundwater to flash into steam, tossing massive quantities of pulverized old rock and fresh magma across the stony alluvial fan draped across the valley. However, the western cluster of Maar volcanoes was the first to form, then the southern cluster, followed by Ubehebe the largest of them all possibly 300 years ago. During the eruption, volcanic material in the form of ash and cinders was thrown out six miles from the craters.

The Ubehebe Crater is known as "Tem-pin-tta- Wo’sah", meaning Coyote’s Basket.  Furthermore, the colorful layers in the crater’s eastern wall are “fanglomerates” is an alluvial fan deposit hardened into rock. Sandstone and conglomerate, loosely cemented together by calcite make up this conglomerate and most of the pieces of rock are either volcanic or metamorphic. Hence, water erosion created the deep gullies that you see on the crater’s east side. The pink and brown mud flat at the bottom of the crater is the site of many short-lived lakes. At least a dozen craters are located within an area of 3 sq km, and bedded pyroclastic-surge deposits cover an area of 15 sq km. In this area volcanic soil is rich in nutrients and wildflower like Bigelow Monkeyflower absorbs heat, tend to bloom very early here, even in the late winter months, you might see some spring flowers early.

Moreover, winds at the rim of “Ubehebe” are very powerful and often gust above 50 mph, thus it is an easy walk and you can relish the stunning landscapes. Three major trails leads you to crater, one is start from parking area to bottom of Ubehebe, second is circumnavigates the crater rims, and third trail is leads off to little Hebe. Hence, the past 7,000 years, erosion has been creating deep crevices and fascinating patterns on the inner crater walls and they are at their most dramatic when the sun is low in the sky.  It is highly recommended to view the crater is when the sun is low in the sky in the morning or late afternoon. This amazing crater is impossible to describe in a way that does it justice. The depth and breadth is staggering, as the colors varied and beautiful. When you visit Ubehebe crater please be sure, you must stay on the trail since the crater rim and adjacent gullies are composed of very fragile material making them unstable and dangerous.