Way Back Machine: Tuff Rings

Today’s Way Back Machine is inspired by a news article that I read yesterday, stating that, oops, maybe the Ubehebe volcano didn’t really erupt 6000 years ago.  Maybe it was more like 800 years ago.  If that’s the case, there’s still more than enough underground water left to cause a phreatomagmatic explosion.  Layman’s terms: hot rocks meet underground water: go boom.

So, that’s nice, Carolyn; why is this on your blog?  As I’m incapable of sitting at the internet without monkey-clicking from one thing to the next,  I wound up on the Wikipedia page for phreatomagmatic explosions, which in turn talked about tuff rings, a type of mass that forms after such a magma-water explosion.  As it turns out, I’ve visited a few tuff rings on my motorcycles and, thus, today’s Way Back Machine takes us back to both Ubehebe Crater and to the Oregon Outback.

Death Valley is one of my very favorite places to ride.  It has a special place in my heart for being the first stop on my first week-long solo ride in April 2003.  I remember sitting outside the Furnace Creek Ranch that night with my little notebook and thinking yes, yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

The green in the Artist Drive Formation is from tuff-derived mica.  So, not a tuff ring per se, but close enough for my precarious attempts at cohesion.

I went back to Death Valley with Peter in February 2005.  This time we went to Ubehebe Crater, our little tuff ring star of the show.

Yeah, my eyes are closed.  I’m awesome like that.

Here’s my full ride report on that trip, if’n you’re so inclined.

The other tuff ring in my motorcycling history is out in the Oregon Outback, another truly awesome place to ride, even if it does have quite a bit of those yellow desert flowers that I’m absolutely allergic to.  I think Peter’s theory is that I love riding in the desert so much because I’m usually so hopped up on cold medication that I think it’s interesting.

Anyway, I first visited Fort Rock in September 2006 during an impromptu Labor Day weekend ride on the Z750S.  (Full ride report here)

The region has about 40 tuff rings, but Fort Rock is the largest at about 4,460 feet in diameter and about 200 feet high.  It’s also much older than Ubehebe Crater: current estimates put it at 50,000-100,000 years old.

I find it incredibly creepy, to be honest.  Perhaps I was abducted by aliens in a past life or something, but I’m always skin-crawlingly uncomfortable around huge rock formations that just rise up out of the earth like that.

I was back at Fort Rock about a year later with my friend Jenny, when I rode the XT225 up to Seattle.

So that’s my little trip via the Way Back Machine to tuff rings.

There are certainly a lot of other volcanoes that I’ve visited — cinder cones, generally — but that can be the topic for another day.  I’ve still got a few months of content to try to dream up before I’m riding again…


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