Logo link to homepage

Craters of the Moon

Photo of this volcano
  • United States
  • Canada and Western USA
  • Pyroclastic cone(s)
  • 130 BCE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 43.42°N
  • 113.5°W

  • 2005 m
    6578 ft

  • 324020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Craters of the Moon.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Craters of the Moon.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Craters of the Moon.

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.

Eruptive History

There is data available for 14 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
0130 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) South of Big Craters, near Broken Top
0260 BCE ± 25 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Big Craters, Trench Mortar Flat
0350 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 0 Magnetism North Crater
1680 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Vermillion Chasm to Minidoka-Larkspur
2560 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Black Top Butte
4070 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Big Cinder Butte and vents to the SE
4250 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 0 Tephrochronology Sentinel Cone
4600 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Silent Cone
5470 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Grassy Cone
5890 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) NW of Echo Crater
8290 BCE Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
8720 BCE Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
9050 BCE Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
10060 BCE Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Sunset cone
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Craters of the Moon.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Craters of the Moon.

Photo Gallery

The Highway lava flow forming the black lobe in the center of the photo at the base of the Pioneer Mountains was erupted about 2300 years ago from a vent at or near North Crater, out of view to the right. Two other Craters of the Moon flows, the Devils Orchard and Serrate lava flows, were also erupted at about the same time. The complex vegetated cinder cone to the right of the Highway lava flow is the late Pleistocene Sunset Cone.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Blue Dragon lava flow covers about 280 sq km of Craters of the Moon lava field with flat-lying pahoehoe lava. The 3.4 cu km flow, erupted about 2075 years ago, is the largest in the Craters of the Moon volcanic field. It traveled up to 25 km to the east and 15 km to the SW from fissure vents near the center of this photo. The largely pahoehoe lava flow is named for a characteristic iridescent dark- to light-blue, glassy crust.

Photo by Lee Siebert. 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The ropy surface of pahoehoe lava flows is the dominant lava type at Craters of the Moon. The pahoehoe flows were typically erupted through lava tubes and tube systems. Locally collapse of tube roofs has formed skylights and entrances to lava tunnels that are popular among visitors to the national monument.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Pressure ridges, formed when moving, still-fluid magma buckled the solidified surfaces of pahoehoe lava flows, are one of the many lava flow features easily observed at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Silent Cone, the partially forested cinder cone in the background, was the source of lava flows primarily to the south about 6500 years ago. The well-preserved cone of Big Craters in the foreground is one of the youngest features of Craters of the Moon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Big Craters lava flow in the foreground, one of the youngest at the Craters of the Moon, originated about 2200 years ago from vents at the northern base of Big Craters. The flows traveled north before being deflected by the slopes of the Pioneer Mountains in the background and then flowed primarily to the SW.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The vast extent of the Blue Dragon lava flow, forming the flat area in the middle of the photo, can be appreciated in this view from Big Cinder Butte with Big Southern Butte in the background to the east. The Blue Dragon flow, the largest volume lava flow at Craters of the Moon, covers 280 sq km with 3.4 cu km of lava. The flow was erupted about 2075 years ago and covers broad areas as far as 25 km to the east and 15 km to the SW of its vent area.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Craters of the Moon lava field covers 1600 sq km of the Snake River Plain with lava flows erupted from NW-SE-trending fissures and cinder cones. The northern part of the lava field, seen from Big Cinder Butte with the Pioneer Mountains in the background to the north, contains many flows and cinder cones formed during the most recent eruptions about 2300 to 2100 years ago.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
GVP Map Holdings

The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Very small-scale maps (such as world maps) are not included. The maps database originated over 30 years ago, but was only recently updated and connected to our main database. We welcome users to tell us if they see incorrect information or other problems with the maps; please use the Contact GVP link at the bottom of the page to send us email.


Title: Canada, United States
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: United States
Year: 1988
Series: ONC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Canada, United States

Title: W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1984
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology (Volcano)
Scale: 1:2,500,000
Map of W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers

Title: Dist, Thickness, Mass of Tephra from Volcanoes
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1983
Series: MFS
Map Type: Geology (Volcanic Hazard)
Scale: 1:2,500,000
Map of Dist, Thickness, Mass of Tephra from Volcanoes

Title: 1:ID MT SD WY-Map of Dist/Comp/Age CZ Volc Center
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1983
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology (Volcano)
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of 1:ID MT SD WY-Map of Dist/Comp/Age CZ Volc Center

Title: 2:ID MT SD WY-Map of Dist/Comp/Age CZ Volc Center
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1983
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology (Volcano)
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of 2:ID MT SD WY-Map of Dist/Comp/Age CZ Volc Center

Title: Map Showing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Idaho, Western Montana, West-Central South Dakota, and NW WY
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: US
Year: 1983
Series: Misc Investigations
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Map Showing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Idaho, Western Montana, West-Central South Dakota, and NW WY

Title: Map Showing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Idaho, Western Montana, West-Central South Dakota, and NW WY
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: US
Year: 1983
Series: Misc Investigations
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Map Showing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Idaho, Western Montana, West-Central South Dakota, and NW WY

Title: Pocatello
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1982
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Pocatello

Title: Idaho Falls
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1981
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Idaho Falls

Title: Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States
Publisher: ERDA and USGS
Country: United States
Year: 1977
Map Type: Cultural (Geothermal Resources)
Scale: 1:1,250,000
Map of Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States

Title: Hailey
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1970
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Hailey
Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

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

Affiliated Sites