Friday, August 26, 2016

A “relatively young” spatter-cone volcano: Black Crater

Trail sign for horizon-spanning Black Crater, Lava Beds 
Multiple eruptions from surface vents created most of the lava tube caves and spatter-cone volcanoes in what is now Lava Beds National Monumentthe land of burnt-out fires. Looking at the Lava Beds map, you may wonder what to explore first. Besides having many hiking options along various trails and trail loops, you may want to step down into some caves, such as Mushpot, Skull & Merrill caves, or walk around some spatter cones, such as the Fleener Chimneys. Another spatter cone, much younger then the three chimneys, is Black Crater—estimated to be around 3,025 years old, whereas the Fleener Chimneys are given an age of over 10,000 years (see William Hirt).

The rugged rim of Black Crater with fractured red-brown features
A level trail proceeds from the FS-10 roadside trailhead to a fork. To the left, a 1.1-mile-trail leads to the Thomas-Wright Battlefield—a historic site famous for a victory of the local Modoc people with their knowledge of the surrounding landscape over the US Army. The right-side fork takes you to the rugged rim of Black Crater, a short uphill hike of about 0.3 miles. Despite its name, you will see lots of red-brown patches. From the rim, your view will spin around the high-elevation, semi-arid desert lands inhabited for many centuries by the Modoc people.    

Getting to the Black Crater Trailhead
The “Black Crater Trailhead” is located about four miles north of the park's visitor center on the right side of FS-10. The parking strip there is the trailhead for the Thomas-Wright Battlefield Trail with access to the Black Crater. The massive spatter cone can be seen from the trailhead.

No comments: