Ubehebe Craters

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 37.02°N
  • 117.45°W

  • 752 m
    2467 ft

  • 323160
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Ubehebe Craters.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Ubehebe Craters.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Ubehebe Craters.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



4050 BCE

752 m / 2467 ft


Volcano Types

Tuff ring(s)

Rock Types

Basalt / Picro-Basalt

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

The Ubehebe Craters consist of an isolated group of overlapping maars formed during eruptions of alkali basalt along a fault cutting fanglomerate deposits on the flanks of Tin Mountain in Death Valley National Park. Ubehebe Crater is a 0.8-km-wide, 235-m-deep maar surrounded by a tuff ring. Little Hebe Crater, the second youngest vent, is located immediately south of Ubehebe Crater and is a small tuff cone with a 100-m-wide crater overlain by pyroclastic-surge deposits. 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. Early scoria cone formation was followed by hydrovolcanic explosions that formed two clusters of explosion craters and tuff rings. The age of volcanism at Ubehebe is not dated precisely, but the lack of erosional modification of pyroclastic-surge deposits suggests that the youngest activity, from the largest crater, Ubehebe Crater, is Holocene in age. Relationships between Ubehebe tephra and approximately dated archeological artifacts suggests an age of about 6000 years.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Cagnoli B, Russell J K, 2000. Imaging the subsurface stratigraphy in the Ubehebe hydrovolcanic field (Death Valley, California) using ground penetrating radar. J Volc Geotherm Res, 96: 45-56.

Cagnoli B, Ulrych T J, 2001. Ground penetrating radar images of unexposed climbing dune-forms in the Ubehebe hydrovolcanic field (Death Valley, California). J Volc Geotherm Res, 109: 279-298.

Chesterman C W, 1971. Volcanism in California. Calif Geol, 24: 139-147.

Crowe B M, Fisher R V, 1973. Sedimentary structures in base-surge deposits with special reference to cross-bedding, Ubehebe Craters, Death Valley, California. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 84: 663-682.

Miller C D, 1989. Potential hazards from future volcanic eruptions in California. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1847: 1-17.

Sharp R P, Glazner A F, 1997. Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press, 321 p.

Smith R L, Shaw H R, 1975. Igneous-related geothermal systems. U S Geol Surv Circ, 726: 58-83.

Wood C A, Kienle J (eds), 1990. Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ Press, 354 p.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
4050 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Anthropology

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Little Hebe Crater

Photo Gallery

Ubehebe craters are an isolated group of maar volcanoes erupted through nonvolcanic sediments of Death Valley National Park. The craters were formed by hydrovolcanic explosions along a fault. The contact between pre-eruption yellowish- and orange-colored sedimentary rocks and overlying black ash deposits from an early stage scoria cone can be seen at the upper part of the western wall of 800-m wide, 235-m deep Ubehebe crater, the youngest and largest crater.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1974 (Smithsonian Institution).
Bedded pyroclastic-surge deposits from the eruptions forming Ubehebe craters can be seen in this gully south of Little Ubehebe crater. The eruption formed two clusters of explosion craters and tuff rings along a N-S line.

Photo by Lee Siebert (Smithsonian Institution).
Erosional gullies furrow the surface of pyroclastic-surge deposits from the eruptions forming Ubehebe craters in Death Valley, California. The craters were erupted along a fault that forms the western boundary of the Tin Mountain range in the left background.

Photo by Lee Siebert (Smithsonian Institution).
Darker-colored layers of basaltic ash drape the northern rim of Ubehebe Crater in the northern part of Death Valley National Park and spill down the crater walls. The 235-m-deep Ubehebe Crater is the largest of a series of more than a dozen overlapping maars formed by explosive eruptions through fanglomerate deposits, which form the light-colored areas below the ash layers. The Amargosa Range rises on the horizon across Death Valley to the east.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Ubehebe Craters in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Ubehebe Craters Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.