Salton Buttes

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 33.2°N
  • 115.62°W

  • -40 m
    -131 ft

  • 323200
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Salton Buttes.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Salton Buttes.

Index of Monthly Reports

Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

03/2014 (BGVN 39:03) Instrument-aided IR detection of 5 steaming vents at Red Island in 2013

Contents of Monthly Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.

All times are local (= UTC - 7 hours)

03/2014 (BGVN 39:03) Instrument-aided IR detection of 5 steaming vents at Red Island in 2013

An HTML version of this report is not available, please read this report as a PDF file.

The Salton Buttes consist of five small rhyolitic lava domes extruded onto Quaternary sediments of the Colorado River delta within the Salton Sea geothermal field at the SE margin of the Salton Sea. The summit of The age of the Salton Buttes has variously been considered to be late Pleistocene or early Holocene based on different dating techniques. Recent dating of young zircons (which typically crystallize prior to eruption) at 10,300 +/- 1000 years Before Present (BP) is consistent with early Holocene hydration rind dates from Obsidian Butte. Wave-cut benches originating from Lake Cahuilla, which existed from about 20,500 to 3000 BP prior to the 20th century formation of the Salton Sea due to an accidental spill-over of the Colorado River, are found on all of the domes. Older, sediment-buried Pleistocene rhyolitic lava domes have been found in geothermal drill holes. The Salton Sea geothermal field produces saline geothermal brines.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
6450 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Hydration Rind Obsidian Butte

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Niland Field

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Mullet Island Dome
Obsidian Butte Dome
Red Island Dome
Rock Hill Dome
Obsidian Butte on the SE shore of the Salton Sea is seen in an aerial view from the NW. Obsidian Butte is one of five small rhyolitic lava domes extruded onto Quaternary sediments of the Colorado River delta; the summit of the dome lies 40 m below sea level. Two domes, Mullet Island and Red Island (not visible in this view), form small islands just offshore to the NE of Obsidian Butte. A steam plume rises from the Salton Sea geothermal field behind the dome.

Photo by Bruce Perry, 2005 (California State University Long Beach).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Friedman I, Obradovich J, 1981. Obsidian hydration dating of volcanic events. Quat Res, 16: 37-47.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Luedke R G, Smith R L, 1981. Map showing distribution, composition, and age of late Cenozoic volcanic centers in California and Nevada. U S Geol Surv Map, I-1091-C.

Miller C D, 1989. Potential hazards from future volcanic eruptions in California. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1847: 1-17.

Robinson P T, Elders W A, Muffler L J P, 1976. Quaternary volcanism in the Salton Sea geothermal field, Imperial Valley, California. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 87: 347-360.

Schmitt A K, Hulen J B, 2008. Buried rhyolites within the active, high-temperature Salton Sea geothermal system. J Volc Geotherm Res, 178: 708-718.

Schmitt A K, Vazquez J A, 2006. Alteration and remelting of nascent oceanic crust during continental rupture: evidence from zircon geochemistry of rhyolites and xenoliths from the Salton Trough, California. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 252: 260-274.

Smith R L, Shaw H R, Luedke R G, Russell S L, 1978. Comprehensive tables giving physical data and thermal energy estimates for young igneous systems of the United States. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 78-925: 1-25.

Wood C A, Kienle J (eds), 1990. Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ Press, 354 p.

Volcano Types

Lava dome(s)

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types



Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Salton Buttes Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.