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Ubehebe Crater

(pronounced U-be-he-be)

When one thinks of volcanism, usually the mind conjures up a picture of billowing black clouds of smoke and steam along with cinders and ash belching from the top of a volcano or possibly streams of hissing, molten lava flowing down a mountain side.

However, there are many forms of volcanism and if there were humans in this area several thousand years ago, they would have witnessed a very spectacular event indeed.

Molten magma rising from deep beneath the earth's crust came in contact with shallow groundwater. The water was superheated instantly to steam, producing energy which would surpass the power of an underground nuclear blast many times over.

The noise must have been deafening as the resulting explosion and 100 mph (160 km) winds blasted cinders, ash and other debris over an area of six square miles and to a depth of 150 feet (46 km) in places. The resulting crater as we see it today is estimated to be approximately 500 feet (152 m) deep and one half mile (.8 km) from rim to rim.

The chain of events recurred many times but to a lesser degree. Little Hebe crater and several others can be reached by hiking the rim trail approximately one half mile (.8 km) to your right.

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