Geysers are seriously interesting, and if you’re near one you could get the surprise of your life as they let out a big column of steam and hot water.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about these marvels of nature!
What is a Geyser?
A geyser is a kind of like a vent on the Earth’s surface and as we said they will all of a sudden let out a big column of steam and water.
- They are all different sizes all over the world, but some geysers let out literally thousands of liters of boiling water into the air. You definitely don’t want to be too close when that happens. This can go hundreds of meters into the air. Wow, that’s quite something.
- Have you ever heard of Old Faithful? Well if you have this is the most famous geyser in the world, that’s in Yellowstone National Park.
- Yellowstone National Park, USA, is the largest geyser field in the world. It is home to half the world’s active geysers in nine geyser basins. Wow, all that in one place. Over 1,200 geysers have let off their steam in Yellowstone with an average of about 465 in a year.
The world’s tallest active geyser is found in Yellowstone. Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin can erupt to a height exceeding 116m.
- They are quite rare natural features, and the facts about geysers will astound you. There have to be very precise conditions for them to form, which makes them quite rare and they are often near volcanic areas.
- Did you know that there are only around 1,000 known and active geysers around the world? That’s really not a lot when you consider how huge Earth is.
How do the Geysers form?
As we said, there have to be very particular conditions for them to form. They need a combination of water, heat, and cracks in the ground, which then forms a kind of underground plumbing system.
- They form by water that seeps through the ground and it then comes into contact with rocks. These rocks have been heated by magma at quite shallow depths in the volcanic areas.
- They need a subsurface reservoir, which means a place where water is stored just below the ground, to hold the water as it heats.
The boiling water has a huge amount of pressure behind it, and it then comes back up to the surface through porous fractured rock, which is a rock that makes it easy for the water to get through. It also needs fissures, which are a small opening or a crack, and vents as well before it erupts into the air in all its glory!
- There is still water left in the geyser, and this cools down below boiling point, and then like magic the eruption stops.
- The heating starts and the whole process begins again.
Interesting Facts about Geysers
The word geyser comes from the famous Great Geysir in Haukadalur, Iceland. The name comes from the Icelandic verb ‘geysa’ which means ‘to gush’.
There are actually two types of geysers. One is the fountain geyser and they erupt in powerful, often fierce bursts from pools of water. While a cone geyser erupts like a steady jet of water from cones of geyserite, which is a variety of opal that’s deposited around some geysers, and these last anywhere from a few seconds through to several minutes. We think a cone geyser would probably be the safest to see!
Did you know that geysers don’t last forever? If those very specific conditions change then they stop working or become extinct.
- The Valley of Geysers, in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia is the only geyser field throughout Europe and Asia. It has about 200 geysers, the second largest in the world, behind Yellowstone National Park.
- El Tatio, often called the grandfather, is a valley at 4,200m in the Andes, Chile. It is the third-largest geyser field in the world with 80 active geysers.
- The Taupo Volcanic Zone, in the North Island, New Zealand is 350km long and 50km wide. It has volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers. Wow, that would be a place to see.
- The largest geyser ever known was the Waimangu Geyser, which was in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. It began erupting in 1900 and continued erupting until a landslide changed the water table in 1904. Eruptions often reached 160m with some super bursts hit 500m. That is seriously high.
Iceland has some of the most famous geysers in the world. Geysers and hot springs are all over the country. The Haukadalur geyser field is home to the famous Great Geysir, which still erupts, but not very often. The nearby Strokkur geyser erupts every 5 to 8 minutes to a height of about 30m.
The Great Geysir, which we spoke about above, was the first geyser ever to be discovered in 1294.
Now you know everything about geysers, how they’re made, where they are and some super cool facts too! Do you know any other facts about geysers?