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Jordan Craters Volcanic Field

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The name Jordan Craters lava field is applied to the Holocene basalt lava flows and their eruptive vents that lie 30 km (19 mi) northwest of the town of Jordan Valley, Oregon.

Quick Facts

Location: Oregon, Malheur County

Latitude: 43.147° N

Longitude: 117.46° W

Elevation: 1,473 (m) 4,833 (f)

Volcano type: Volcanic field

Composition: Basalt

Most recent eruption: 3,200 years ago

Nearby towns: Jordan Valley

Threat Potential: Low/Very Low*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System


The largest vent is at Coffeepot Crater, a breached crater adjacent to a remnant of its scoria cone. Other smaller spatter-cone vents are aligned to the west-southwest along a fissure extending about 0.3 km (0.2 mi). Eruptions emanating from the vents covered 68 km2 (26 mi2) with 1 km3 (0.24 mi3) with basaltic pahoehoe lava. During the eruption, the cone of Coffeepot Crater held a lava pond that occasionally broke through the confining walls to raft away of the northeastern and southeastern flanks of the cone. Lava flows spread outward, buried existing drainages, and dammed gulches to form Upper and Lower Cow Lakes on the east side of the lava field. A southeasterly lobe of tube-fed lava reached 2 km (1.2 mi) down ancestral Cow Creek before stopping.

The age of the Jordan Craters lava field is commonly cited as 3,200 yr, the age from a charred twig obtained during a lake-sediment coring experiment in 1986. The twig, from the contact between silt and mud of Upper Cow Lake and underlying stream gravels, presumably marks the time when lava dammed the basin, but the relationship with the lava hasn't been well established. The charcoal formation age may predate the deposition of lake sediment by some unknown amount. Thus the 3,200-yr age is best considered the oldest possible age for the flows. Older lava flows surround the Jordan Craters lava field; they range in age from 0.25 to 1.86 Ma and have volumes ranging from 0.8-1.0 km3 (0.2 – 0.25 mi3).


2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment

When erupting, all volcanoes pose a degree of risk to people and infrastructure, however, the risks are not equivalent from one volcano to another because of differences in eruptive style and geographic location. Assessing the relative threats posed by U.S. volcanoes identifies which volcanoes warrant the greatest risk-mitigation efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners. This update

John W. Ewert, Angela K. Diefenbach, David W. Ramsey