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USGS: Not all craters are caused by impact

Photo courtesy of Mike Baird, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Mike Baird, Flickr Creative Commons

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    Cheryl Santa Maria
    Digital Reporter

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 2:15 PM -

    Most people think that craters are caused by asteroid impacts but that isn't always the case, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

    Take the Ubehebe crater for example.

    Found in California's Death Valley, this volcanic crater measures a kilometre wide and up to 237 metres deep.

    Scientists say it was forged through fire and water.

    Here's more from the USGS:

    "In an instant, water flashed to steam, and a violent release of steam-powered energy blasted away the confining rock above (this is called a hydrovolcanic eruption). It produced a dense, ground-hugging cloud of rocky debris which surged out from the base at up to 100 miles/hour, decimating the landscape. A fiery fountain of lava erupted with a roar, forming a vent to the south of what is now Ubehebe Crater. Liquid rock was thrown into the air, then fell to the ground as solidified cinders or partially-molten lava blocks and bombs. A ring of black volcanic material soon builds around the central vent. The first of the Ubehebe Crater complex is born."

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    The exact age of the crater is unknown, but experts believe it was formed between 800 and 7,000 years ago.

    The Ubehebe is just one of the many things to see in California's Death Valley. The entire region has been shaped by the weather in one way or another, whether it be from prolonged drought or intense summer heat. 

    It is now a popular destination for hiking, camping, and star gazing. 

    Want to see more of Death Valley? Check out this incredible time lapse by Gavin Heffernan:

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