Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater in Death Valley National Park, California. It is located at the north tip of the Cottonwood Mountains. The crater is half a mile (one kilometer) wide and 500 to 777 feet (150 to 237 m) deep. The age of the crater is estimated from 2,000 to 7,000 years old.”Ubehebe” (pronounced YOU-bee-HEE-bee) is a Native American word meaning “Big basket in the rock.” The crater was formed when magma migrated close to the surface and the heat of the magma flashed groundwater into steam, throwing large quantities of pulverized old rock and new magma across the stony alluvial fan draped across the valley floor. The magma rose through a fault that lies along the western base of Tin Mountain (movement on this fault was responsible for uplift of the entire Cottonwood mountain range).
The resulting large steam explosions are called a hydrovolcanic or phreatic eruption by geologists and the pits created are known as maars. Ubehebe was the last and largest in series of similar eruptions in the immediate area (its eruption exceeded the tensile strength of the bedrock by 10 times). Earlier eruptions created a group of much shallower maars to the south and another to the west. Little Hebe is a spatter cone that grew in the middle of one of the largest maars in the south group. The only significant deposit of lava in the volcanic field is contained in Little Hebe.