Geysers and Hot Springs

The Earth is covered with interesting geologic features such as mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers, and more, but one of the most interesting sights to see is when a geyser or hot spring shoots out water and steam from the surface of the Earth. There are about 1,000 geysers around the world.

A geyser is a type of hot spring and is made in special geological conditions, and only a few places on the Earth meet those conditions. Half the geysers in the world can be found in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, including one called Old Faithful. Geysers erupt and shoot out the steam and water when the pressure has built up, and often at regular intervals. Old Faithful shoots water every 60 to 90 minutes and goes off about 17 times every day.

Because of the special conditions needed, geysers are not very common. The geysers in Yellowstone are from the remains of a gigantic volcano. There is another geyser that can be found in Iceland and sits on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the new crust of the Earth is formed.

Nearly all geysers will be found near active volcanoes because the geyser is caused by magma, a liquid rock found below the earth's surface. Surface water usually goes down about 6,600 feet, mixes with the hot rocks, and the pressurized water begins to boil. When the pressure is too great, the hot water and steam shoot out of the Earth leading to a geyser.

Single geysers do not last forever, but there are systems of geysers that last if the geological conditions are met and continues. The oldest geysers in the world are only about a few thousand years old, which may seem old but compared to the age of the Earth, it is a short period of time.

As stated earlier, geysers are often near volcanic areas and when the water boils, the pressure increases. Think about a covered pot of water or soup, eventually, the liquid will boil, the pressure will increase, and the lid is blown off the pot.

Geysers usually develop because of three necessary things that can be found near volcanoes. First high heat is necessary. Geysers not only need high heat, but it must be hot enough to melt rocks, like the magma inside the Earth's surface, which is the source of the heat. The magma must be near the surface of the Earth. Of course, water is needed for a geyser, which also is the source for the steam. Water bursts from a geyser and travels underground through deep, high-pressure cracks in the crust of the earth. Water from some geysers can shoot up to 200 feet into the air. Finally, a plumbing system is necessary too, but not like pipes in a home. Around a geyser, there is a system of fractures (cracks in the earth's surface due to stress), fissures, spaces and sometimes cavities (holes).

The temperatures at the bottom of the geyser increase and the water boils and steam bubbles come out of the top of the column. The bubbles burst through the vent of a geyser, and water flows or splashes out. This makes the weight of the column of water pressure on the water below much less, and when the pressure is released, the hot water turns to steam.

As the water from a geyser shoots high above the surface of the Earth, a hot spring is water heated below ground that rises through a crack in the surface. The water in hot springs may reach hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit, though most hot springs are much cooler, and people can sometimes soak in the warm water like a giant hot tub. There are also hot springs that can be found in Yellowstone National Park.

Finally, geysers may be found in the solar system including on the moon. Though on the moon, the eruption takes place from vapor only because the liquid part is not there. They have been seen near the south pole of one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, and nitrogen eruptions have been seen on Triton, Neptune's moon. On Mars, carbon dioxide eruptions have been seen on the southern polar ice cap.

In summary, a geyser is a type of hot spring that shoots water and steam out of the Earth's surface, and a hot spring heated water that rises through a crack in the surface of the Earth.

A: Salt
B: High heat
C: Water
D: Plumbing system

A: Hot springs
B: Fractures
C: Magma
D: Holes

A: Wyoming
B: Triton
C: Mid-Atlantic Ridge
D: All the above

A: 60 to 90
B: 200
C: About 17
D: 1,000

A: Earth
B: Neptune
C: Mars
D: Saturn

A: Hot spring
B: Geyser
C: Magma
D: None of the above

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