Geyser

Geyser

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A geyser is a spring
Spring (hydrosphere)
A spring—also known as a rising or resurgence—is a component of the hydrosphere. Specifically, it is any natural situation where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground...

 characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by a vapour
Water vapor
Water vapor or water vapour , also aqueous vapor, is the gas phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously...

 phase (steam). The word geyser comes from Geysir
Geysir
Geysir , sometimes known as The Great Geysir, was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse...

, the name of an erupting spring at Haukadalur
Haukadalur
-Haukadalur, Golden Circle:This valley lies to the north of the Laugarvatn in the south of Iceland at .There are to be seen some of the most famous sights of the island: the geysers and other geothermal features which have developed on Laugarfjall rhyolitic dome. The biggest geysers of Haukadalur...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

; that name, in turn, comes from the Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

 verb geysa, "to gush", the verb itself from Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

.

The formation of geysers is due to particular hydrogeological conditions, which exist in only a few places on Earth, so they are a fairly rare phenomenon. Generally all geyser field sites are located near active volcanic areas, and the geyser effect is due to the proximity of magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

. Generally, surface water works its way down to an average depth of around 2000 metres (6,561.7 ft) where it contacts hot rocks. The resultant boiling of the pressurized water results in the geyser effect of hot water and steam spraying out of the geyser's surface vent (a hydrothermal explosion
Hydrothermal explosion
Hydrothermal explosions occur when superheated water trapped below the surface of the earth rapidly converts from liquid to steam, violently disrupting the confining rock. Boiling water, steam, mud, and rock fragments called breccia are ejected over an area of a few meters up to several kilometers...

).

About a thousand known geysers exist worldwide, roughly half of which are in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. A geyser's eruptive activity may change or cease due to ongoing mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 deposition
Deposition (geology)
Deposition is the geological process by which material is added to a landform or land mass. Fluids such as wind and water, as well as sediment flowing via gravity, transport previously eroded sediment, which, at the loss of enough kinetic energy in the fluid, is deposited, building up layers of...

 within the geyser plumbing, exchange of functions with nearby hot spring
Hot spring
A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth.-Definitions:...

s, earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 influences, and human intervention.

Jet-like eruptions, often referred to as geysers, have been observed on several of the moons
Natural satellite
A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called its primary. The two terms are used synonymously for non-artificial satellites of planets, of dwarf planets, and of minor planets....

 of the outer solar system. Due to the low ambient pressures, these eruptions consist of vapor without liquid; they are made more easily visible by particles of dust and ice carried aloft by the gas. Water vapor jets have been observed near the south pole of Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

's moon Enceladus
Enceladus (moon)
Enceladus is the sixth-largest of the moons of Saturn. It was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel. Until the two Voyager spacecraft passed near it in the early 1980s very little was known about this small moon besides the identification of water ice on its surface...

, while nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 eruptions have been observed on Neptune
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

's moon Triton
Triton (moon)
Triton is the largest moon of the planet Neptune, discovered on October 10, 1846, by English astronomer William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, which is an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet's rotation. At 2,700 km in diameter, it is...

. There are also signs of carbon dioxide eruptions
Geysers on Mars
Martian geysers are putative sites of small-scale jet-like eruptions that are believed to occur in the south polar region of Mars during the spring thaw. "Dark dune spots" and "spiders" are the two most visible types of features ascribed to these eruptions. They are unlike any terrestrial...

 from the southern polar ice cap of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

. In the latter two cases, instead of being driven by geothermal energy, the eruptions seem to rely on solar heating via a solid-state greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

.

Form and function



Geysers are temporary geological features. Geysers are generally associated with volcanic areas. As the water boils, the resulting pressure forces a superheated column of steam and water to the surface through the geyser's internal plumbing. The formation of geysers specifically requires the combination of three geologic conditions that are usually found in volcanic terrain.

Intense heat
The heat needed for geyser formation comes from magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

 that needs to be near the surface of the earth. The fact that geysers need heat much higher than normally found near the earth's surface is the reason they are associated with volcanoes or volcanic areas. The pressures encountered at the areas where the water is heated makes the boiling point of the water much higher than at normal atmospheric pressures.


Water
The water that is ejected from a geyser must travel underground through deep, pressurized fissures in the earth's crust.


A plumbing system
In order for the heated water to form a geyser, a plumbing system is required. This includes a reservoir to hold the water while it is being heated. Geysers are generally aligned along faults. The plumbing system is made up of a system of fracture
Fracture
A fracture is the separation of an object or material into two, or more, pieces under the action of stress.The word fracture is often applied to bones of living creatures , or to crystals or crystalline materials, such as gemstones or metal...

s, fissure
Fissure
In anatomy, a fissure is a groove, natural division, deep furrow, elongated cleft, or tear in various parts of the body.-Brain:...

s, porous spaces and sometimes cavities. Constrictions in the system are essential to the building up of pressure before an eruption.

Eruptions


Geyser activity, like all hot spring activity, is caused by surface water gradually seeping down through the ground until it meets rock heated by magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

. The geothermally heated water then rises back toward the surface by convection
Convection
Convection is the movement of molecules within fluids and rheids. It cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids....

 through porous and fractured rocks. Geysers differ from non-eruptive hot springs in their subterranean structure; many consist of a small vent at the surface connected to one or more narrow tubes that lead to underground reservoirs of water.
As the geyser fills, the water at the top of the column cools off, but because of the narrowness of the channel, convective cooling of the water in the reservoir is impossible. The cooler water above presses down on the hotter water beneath, not unlike the lid of a pressure cooker, allowing the water in the reservoir to become superheated
Superheating
In physics, superheating is the phenomenon in which a liquid is heated to a temperature higher than its boiling point, without boiling...

, i.e. to remain liquid at temperatures well above the standard-pressure boiling point.

Ultimately, the temperatures near the bottom of the geyser rise to a point where boiling begins; steam bubbles rise to the top of the column. As they burst through the geyser's vent, some water overflows or splashes out, reducing the weight of the column and thus the pressure on the water underneath. With this release of pressure, the superheated water flashes into steam
Steam
Steam is the technical term for water vapor, the gaseous phase of water, which is formed when water boils. In common language it is often used to refer to the visible mist of water droplets formed as this water vapor condenses in the presence of cooler air...

, boiling violently throughout the column. The resulting froth of expanding steam and hot water then sprays out of the geyser vent.

The rocks in the nearby region produce a material called geyserite
Geyserite
Geyserite is a form of opaline silica that is often found around hot springs and geysers. Botryoidal geyserite is known as fiorite. It is sometimes referred to as sinter.-References:*...

. Geyserite—mostly silicon dioxide
Silicon dioxide
The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica , is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula '. It has been known for its hardness since antiquity...

 (SiO2), is dissolved from the rocks and gets deposited on the walls of the geyser's plumbing system and on the surface. The deposits make the channels carrying the water up to the surface pressure-tight. This allows the pressure to be carried all the way to the top and not be leaked out into the loose gravel or soil that are normally under the geyser fields.

Eventually the water remaining in the geyser cools back to below the boiling point and the eruption ends; heated groundwater begins seeping back into the reservoir, and the whole cycle begins again. The duration of eruptions and time between successive eruptions vary greatly from geyser to geyser; Strokkur
Strokkur
Strokkur is a fountain geyser in the geothermal area beside the Hvítá River in Iceland in the southwest part of the country, east of Reykjavik...

 in Iceland erupts for a few seconds every few minutes, while Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser is a fountain geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It is the tallest predictable geyser known. It was named by Dr. F.V. Hayden in 1871.-Eruptions:...

 in the United States erupts for up to 10 minutes every 8–12 hours.

General categorization


There are two types of geysers: fountain geysers which erupt from pools of water, typically in a series of intense, even violent, bursts; and cone geysers which erupt from cones or mounds of siliceous sinter (also known as geyserite
Geyserite
Geyserite is a form of opaline silica that is often found around hot springs and geysers. Botryoidal geyserite is known as fiorite. It is sometimes referred to as sinter.-References:*...

), usually in steady jets that last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Old Faithful
Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming, in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name...

, perhaps the best-known geyser at Yellowstone National Park, is an example of a cone geyser. Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser is a fountain geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It is the tallest predictable geyser known. It was named by Dr. F.V. Hayden in 1871.-Eruptions:...

, the tallest predictable geyser on earth, (although Geysir in Iceland is taller, it is not predictable), also at Yellowstone National Park, is an example of a fountain geyser.

The intense transient forces inside erupting geysers are the main reason for their rarity. There are many volcanic areas in the world that have hot spring
Hot spring
A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth.-Definitions:...

s, mud pots and fumarole
Fumarole
A fumarole is an opening in a planet's crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide. The steam is created when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from...

s, but very few with geysers. This is because in most places, even where other necessary conditions for geyser activity exist, the rock structure is loose, and eruptions will erode the channels and rapidly destroy any nascent geysers.

Most geysers form in places where there is volcanic rhyolite
Rhyolite
This page is about a volcanic rock. For the ghost town see Rhyolite, Nevada, and for the satellite system, see Rhyolite/Aquacade.Rhyolite is an igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic composition . It may have any texture from glassy to aphanitic to porphyritic...

 rock which dissolves in hot water and forms mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 deposits called siliceous sinter, or geyserite
Geyserite
Geyserite is a form of opaline silica that is often found around hot springs and geysers. Botryoidal geyserite is known as fiorite. It is sometimes referred to as sinter.-References:*...

, along the inside of the plumbing systems which are very slender. Over time these deposits cement the rock together tightly, strengthening the channel walls and enabling the geyser to persist; as mentioned in the previous section.

Geysers are fragile phenomena and if conditions change, they can "die". Many geysers have been destroyed by people throwing litter and debris into them; others have ceased to erupt due to dewatering by geothermal power
Geothermal power
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals...

 plants. The Great Geysir of Iceland
Geysir
Geysir , sometimes known as The Great Geysir, was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse...

 has had periods of activity and dormancy. During its long dormant periods, eruptions were sometimes humanly-induced—often on special occasions—by the addition of surfactant
Surfactant
Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of a liquid, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid...

s to the water.

Biology of geysers


The specific colours of geysers derive from the fact that despite the apparently harsh conditions, life is often found in them (and also in other hot habitats
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

) in the form of thermophilic prokaryote
Prokaryote
The prokaryotes are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus , or any other membrane-bound organelles. The organisms that have a cell nucleus are called eukaryotes. Most prokaryotes are unicellular, but a few such as myxobacteria have multicellular stages in their life cycles...

s. No known eukaryote
Eukaryote
A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Eukaryotes may more formally be referred to as the taxon Eukarya or Eukaryota. The defining membrane-bound structure that sets eukaryotic cells apart from prokaryotic cells is the nucleus, or nuclear...

 can survive over 60 °C (140 °F).

In the 1960s, when the research of biology of geysers first appeared, scientists were generally convinced that no life can survive above around 73 °C (163.4 °F)—the upper limit for the survival of cyanobacteria, as the structure of key cellular protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s and deoxyribonucleic acid
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 (DNA) would be destroyed. The optimal temperature for thermophilic bacteria was placed even lower, around 55 °C (131 °F).

However, the observations proved that it is actually possible for life to exist at high temperatures and that some bacteria even prefer temperatures higher than the boiling point of water. Dozens of such bacteria are known.
Thermophile
Thermophile
A thermophile is an organism — a type of extremophile — that thrives at relatively high temperatures, between 45 and 122  °C . Many thermophiles are archaea...

s prefer temperatures from 50 to 70 °C (122 to 158 °F), whilst hyperthermophile
Hyperthermophile
A hyperthermophile is an organism that thrives in extremely hot environments— from 60 degrees C upwards. An optimal temperature for the existence of hyperthermophiles is above 80°C . Hyperthermophiles are a subset of extremophiles, micro-organisms within the domain Archaea, although some bacteria...

s grow better at temperatures as high as 80 to 110 °C (176 to 230 °F). As they have heat-stable enzymes that retain their activity even at high temperatures, they have been used as a source of thermostable tool
Tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

s, that are important in medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and biotechnology
Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

, for example in manufacturing antibiotic
Antibiotic
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

s, plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

s, detergent
Detergent
A detergent is a surfactant or a mixture of surfactants with "cleaning properties in dilute solutions." In common usage, "detergent" refers to alkylbenzenesulfonates, a family of compounds that are similar to soap but are less affected by hard water...

s (by the use of heat-stable enzymes lipase
Lipase
A lipase is an enzyme that catalyzes the formation or cleavage of fats . Lipases are a subclass of the esterases.Lipases perform essential roles in the digestion, transport and processing of dietary lipids in most, if not all, living organisms...

s, pullulanase
Pullulanase
Pullulanase is a specific kind of glucanase, an amylolytic exoenzyme, that degrades pullulan. It is produced as an extracellular, cell surface-anchored lipoprotein by Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Klebsiella. Type I pullulanases specifically attack α-1,6 linkages, while type II pullulanases...

s and protease
Protease
A protease is any enzyme that conducts proteolysis, that is, begins protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together in the polypeptide chain forming the protein....

s), and fermentation products (for example ethanol
Ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

 is produced). Among these, the first discovered and the most important for biotechnology is Thermus aquaticus
Thermus aquaticus
Thermus aquaticus is a species of bacterium that can tolerate high temperatures, one of several thermophilic bacteria that belong to the Deinococcus-Thermus group...

. The fact that such bacteria exist also stretches our imagination about life on other celestial bodies
Celestial Body
Celestial Body is a Croatian film directed by Lukas Nola. It was released in 2000....

, both within and beyond the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

.

Major geyser fields and their distribution



Geysers are quite rare, requiring a combination of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, heat
Heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

, and fortuitous plumbing
Plumbing
Plumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of potable drinking water and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping...

. The combination exists in few places on Earth.

Yellowstone National Park, U.S.



Yellowstone is the largest geyser locale, containing thousands of hot springs, and approximately 300 to 500 geysers. It is home to half of the world's total number of geysers in its nine geyser basins. It is located mostly in Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, USA, with small portions in Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

. Yellowstone includes the world's tallest active geyser (Steamboat Geyser
Steamboat Geyser
Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park's Norris Geyser Basin, is the world's tallest currently-active geyser. During major eruptions, water may be thrown more than 300 feet into the air....

 in Norris Geyser Basin), as well as the renowned Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming, in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name...

, Beehive Geyser
Beehive Geyser
Beehive Geyser is a geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The tall cone resembles a beehive. Beehive's Indicator is a small, jagged cone-type geyser located about from Beehive.-History:...

, Giantess Geyser
Giantess Geyser
Giantess Geyser is a fountain-type geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. It is known for its violent and infrequent eruptions of multiple water bursts that reach from . Eruptions generally occur 2 to 6 times a year. The surrounding area may shake from underground steam...

, Lion Geyser
Lion Geyser
Lion Geyser is a cone-type geyser in in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It is located in the Geyser Hill complex....

, Plume Geyser, Aurum Geyser, Castle Geyser
Castle Geyser
Castle Geyser is a cone geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. It is noted for the particularly large geyserite sinter deposits, which form its cone...

, Sawmill Geyser, Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser is a fountain geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It is the tallest predictable geyser known. It was named by Dr. F.V. Hayden in 1871.-Eruptions:...

, Oblong Geyser, Giant Geyser
Giant Geyser
Giant Geyser is a cone-type geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Giant Geyser is the namesake for the Giant Group of geysers, which includes Bijou Geyser, Giant Geyser, Giantess Geyser and Mastiff Geyser. Giant Geyser is also the namesake for the Giant...

, Daisy Geyser
Daisy Geyser
Daisy Geyser is a geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in the United States.Daisy Geyser is part of the Daisy Group. It was named prior to 1890 by the Hague Party. It erupts every 110 to 240 minutes for a period of 3 to 5 minutes and is one of the most predictable geysers...

, Grotto Geyser
Grotto Geyser
Grotto Geyser is a fountain-type geyser located in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Grotto Geyser is the namesake for the group of geysers that includes Grotto Fountain Geyser, South Grotto Fountain Geyser, Indicator Spring, Spa Geyser, and Rocket...

, Fan & Mortar Geysers, & Riverside Geyser
Riverside Geyser
Riverside Geyser is a geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. state of Wyoming.The geyser is located on the Firehole River within the Upper Geyser Basin. The geyser shoots steam and water to heights of 75 feet in an arch over the river, sometimes causing brilliant rainbows. The eruptions...

, all in the Upper Geyser Basin which alone contains nearly 180 geysers.

Valley of Geysers, Russia



The Valley of Geysers ("Dolina Geiserov" in Russian) located in the Kamchatka Peninsula
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

 of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 is the only geyser field in Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 and the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. The area was discovered and explored by Tatyana Ustinova
Tatyana Ustinova
Tatyana Ustinova was a Soviet geologist, who discovered Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka.- Biography :...

 in 1941. Approximately 200 geysers exist in the area along with many hot-water springs and perpetual spouters. The area was formed due to vigorous volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 activity. The peculiar way of eruptions are an important feature of these geysers. Most of the geysers erupt at angles, and only very few have the geyser cones that exist at many other of the world's geyser fields. On June 3, 2007 a massive mudflow
Mudflow
A mudslide is the most rapid and fluid type of downhill mass wasting. It is a rapid movement of a large mass of mud formed from loose soil and water. Similar terms are mudflow, mud stream, debris flow A mudslide is the most rapid (up to 80 km/h, or 50 mph) and fluid type of downhill mass...

 influenced two thirds of the valley. It was then reported that a thermal lake was forming above the valley. Few days later, waters were observed to have receded somewhat, exposing some of the submerged features. Velikan Geyser, one of the field's largest, was not buried in the slide and has recently been observed to be active.

El Tatio, Chile


The name "El Tatio" roughly translates as "the grandfather". El Tatio is located in the high valleys on the Andes surrounded by many active Volcanoes in Chile, South America at around 4200 metres (13,779.5 ft) above mean sea level. The valley is home to approximately 80 geysers at present. It became the largest geyser field in the Southern Hemisphere after the destruction of many of the New Zealand geysers, and is the third largest geyser field in the world. The salient feature of these geysers is that the height of their eruptions is very low, tallest being only 6 metres (19.7 ft) high, but with steam columns that can be over 20 metres (65.6 ft) high. The average geyser eruption height at El Tatio is about 750 millimetres (29.5 in).

Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand



The Taupo Volcanic Zone is located on New Zealand's North Island
North Island
The North Island is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island is in area, making it the world's 14th-largest island...

. It is 350 kilometres (217 mi) long by 50 km (31 mi) and lies over a subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 zone in the Earth's crust. Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu, or just Ruapehu, is an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand. It is 23 kilometres northeast of Ohakune and 40 kilometres southwest of the southern shore of Lake Taupo, within Tongariro National Park...

 marks its southwestern end, while the submarine Whakatane volcano (85 km (52.8 mi) beyond White Island) is considered its northeastern limit. Many geysers in this zone were destroyed due to geothermal
Geothermal
Geothermal is related to energy and may refer to:* The geothermal gradient and associated heat flows from within the Earth- Renewable technology :...

 developments and a hydroelectric reservoir, but several dozen geysers still exist. In the beginning of the 20th century, the largest geyser ever known, the Waimangu Geyser
Waimangu Geyser
The Waimangu Geyser, located near Rotorua in New Zealand, was the most powerful geyser in the world. Its workings were apparently created by the great 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption, which opened a 14km-long fissure down the mountain and through Lake Rotomahana.The geyser was first seen erupting in...

 existed in this zone. It began erupting in 1900 and erupted periodically for four years until a landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

 changed the local water table
Water table
The water table is the level at which the submarine pressure is far from atmospheric pressure. It may be conveniently visualized as the 'surface' of the subsurface materials that are saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity. However, saturated conditions may extend above the water table as...

. Eruptions of Waimangu would typically reach 160 metres (524.9 ft) and some superbursts are known to have reached 500 metres (1,640.4 ft). Recent scientific work indicates that the Earth's crust below the zone may be as little as 5 kilometres (3 mi) thick. Beneath this lies a film of magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

 50 km (31 mi) and 160 km (99 mi).

Iceland




Iceland is home to some of the greatest geysers in the world. Geysers and hot springs are distributed all over the island. Many of the geysers are located in Haukadalur
Haukadalur
-Haukadalur, Golden Circle:This valley lies to the north of the Laugarvatn in the south of Iceland at .There are to be seen some of the most famous sights of the island: the geysers and other geothermal features which have developed on Laugarfjall rhyolitic dome. The biggest geysers of Haukadalur...

. Geysers are known to have existed in at least a dozen other areas on the island. The Great Geysir, which first erupted in the 14th century, gave rise to the word geyser. By 1896, Geysir was almost dormant before an earthquake that year caused eruptions to begin again, occurring several times a day, but in 1916, eruptions all but ceased. Throughout much he 20th century, eruptions, usually following earthquakes, did happen from time to time. Some man-made improvements were made to the spring and eruptions were forced with soap on special occasions. Earthquakes in June 2000 subsequently reawakened the giant for a time but it is not currently erupting regularly. The nearby Strokkur
Strokkur
Strokkur is a fountain geyser in the geothermal area beside the Hvítá River in Iceland in the southwest part of the country, east of Reykjavik...

 geyser erupts every 5–8 minutes to a height of some 30 metres (98.4 ft).

Extinct/Dormant geyser fields


There used to be two large geysers fields in Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

Beowawe
Beowawe, Nevada
Beowawe is a ghost town in Eureka County in northeastern Nevada in the western United States. Beowawe is a Paiute Native American word meaning "gate", so named for the peculiar shape of the hills close to town which gives the effect of a gateway opening to the valley beyond. The town is located at...

 and Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs, Nevada
Steamboat Springs is a small volcanic field of rhyolitic lava domes and flows in western Nevada, USA, located south of Reno. There is extensive geothermal activity in the area, including numerous hot springs, steam vents, and fumaroles...

—but they were destroyed by the installation of nearby geothermal power plants. At the plants, geothermal drilling reduced the available heat and lowered the local water table
Water table
The water table is the level at which the submarine pressure is far from atmospheric pressure. It may be conveniently visualized as the 'surface' of the subsurface materials that are saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity. However, saturated conditions may extend above the water table as...

 to the point that geyser activity could no longer be sustained.

Many of New Zealand’s geysers have been destroyed by humans in the last century. Several New Zealand geysers have also become dormant or extinct by natural means. The main remaining field is Whakarewarewa
Whakarewarewa
Whakarewarewa is a geothermal area within Rotorua city in the Taupo Volcanic Zone of New Zealand...

 at Rotorua
Rotorua
Rotorua is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. The city is the seat of the Rotorua District, a territorial authority encompassing the city and several other nearby towns...

. Two thirds of the geysers at Orakei Korako
Orakei Korako
Orakei Korako , is a highly active geothermal area most notable for its series of fault-stepped sinter terraces, located in a valley north of Taupo on the banks of the Waikato River in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand...

 were flooded by the Ohakuri hydroelectric dam in 1961. The Wairakei
Wairakei
Wairakei is the name of a power station, small settlement and a geothermal area a few kilometres north of Taupo, in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand, on the Waikato River.- Geothermal field :...

 field was lost to a geothermal power plant in 1958. The Taupo Spa field was lost when the Waikato River
Waikato River
The Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand. In the North Island, it runs for 425 kilometres from the eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu, joining the Tongariro River system and emptying into Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. It drains Taupo at the lake's northeastern edge, creates the...

 level was deliberately altered in the 1950s. The Rotomahana field was destroyed by the Mount Tarawera
Mount Tarawera
Mount Tarawera is the volcano responsible for New Zealand's largest historic eruption. Located 24 kilometres southeast of Rotorua in the North Island, it consists of a series of rhyolitic lava domes that were fissured down the middle by an explosive basaltic eruption in 1886, which killed over...

 eruption in 1886.

Misnamed geysers


There are various other types of geysers which are different in nature compared to the normal steam-driven geysers. These geysers differ not only in their style of eruption but also in the cause that makes them erupt. Such geysers are not true geysers but are yet referred as such as they all emit water under pressure.

Artificial geysers
In a number of places where there is geothermal activity, wells have been drilled and fitted with impermeable casements that allow them to erupt like geysers. The vents of such geysers are artificial, but are tapped into natural hydrothermal systems. These so-called artificial geysers, technically known as erupting geothermal wells, are not true geysers. Little Old Faithful Geyser, in Calistoga, California
Calistoga, California
Calistoga is a city in Napa County, California, United States. The population was 5,155 at the 2010 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , 99.30% of it land and 0.70% of it water.-Climate:...

, is an example. The geyser erupts from the casing of a well drilled in the late 19th century. According to Dr. John Rinehart in his book A Guide to Geyser Gazing (1976 p. 49), a man had drilled into the geyser in search for water. He had actually "simply opened up a dead geyser".

Cold-water geysers
Cold-water geysers' eruption is similar to that of their hot-water counterparts, except that CO2
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 bubbles drive the eruption instead of steam. In cold-water geysers, CO2-laden water lies in a confined aquifer, in which water and CO2 are trapped by less permeable overlying strata. This water and CO2 can escape this strata only in weak regions like faults, joints, or drilled wells. A drilled borehole provides an escape for the pressurized water and CO2 to reach the surface. The magnitude and frequency of such eruptions depend on various factors such as plumbing depth, CO2 concentrations, aquifer yield etc. The column of water exerts enough pressure on the gaseous CO2 so that it remains in the water in small bubbles. When the pressure decreases due to formation of a fissure, the CO2 bubbles expand. This expansion displaces the water and causes the eruption. Cold-water geysers may look quite similar to their steam-driven counterparts; however, often CO2-laden water is more white and frothy. The best known of these is probably Crystal Geyser
Crystal Geyser
Crystal Geyser is located on the east bank of the Green River approximately 4.5 miles downstream from Green River, Utah. It is a rare example of a cold water carbon dioxide driven geyser; geothermal activity does not play a role in the activity of the geyser...

, near Green River, Utah
Green River, Utah
Green River is a city in Emery County, Utah, United States. The population was 973 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Green River is located at , on the banks of the Green River, after which the city is named. The San Rafael Swell region is to the west of Green River, while Canyonlands National Park...

. There are also two cold-water geysers in Germany, Brubbel and Geysir Andernach, and one in Slovakia, Herľany
Herlany
Herľany is a village and municipality in Košice-okolie District in the Košice Region of eastern Slovakia.-History:In historical records, the village was first mentioned in 1487.-Geography:...

.

Perpetual spouter
This is a natural hot spring that spouts water constantly without stopping for recharge. Some of these are incorrectly called geysers, but because they are not periodic in nature they are not considered true geysers.

Commercial uses of geysers



Geysers are used for various activities such as electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 generation, heating and tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

. Many geothermal reserves are found all around the world. The geyser fields in Iceland are some of the most commercially viable geyser locations in the world. Since the 1920s hot water directed from the geysers has been used to heat greenhouses and to grow food that otherwise could not have been cultivated in Iceland's inhospitable climate. Steam and hot water from the geysers has also been used for heating homes since 1943 in Iceland. In 1979 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) actively promoted development of geothermal energy in the Geysers-Calistoga Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA) near Calistoga, California
Calistoga, California
Calistoga is a city in Napa County, California, United States. The population was 5,155 at the 2010 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , 99.30% of it land and 0.70% of it water.-Climate:...

 through a variety of research programs and the Geothermal Loan Guarantee Program. The Department is obligated by law to assess the potential environmental impacts of geothermal development.

"Geysers" elsewhere in the Solar System



There are several bodies elsewhere in the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 where jet-like eruptions, often termed "geysers" and "cryogeysers", have been observed or are believed to occur. Unlike geysers on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, these represent eruptions of gas, together with entrained
Entrainment (physical geography)
In physical geography, entrainment is the process by which surface sediment is incorporated into a fluid flow as part of the operation of erosion....

 dust or ice particles, without liquid.

Geyser-like plumes of water vapor, together with ice particles and smaller amounts of other components (such as carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

, nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

, ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

, hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

s and silicate
Silicate
A silicate is a compound containing a silicon bearing anion. The great majority of silicates are oxides, but hexafluorosilicate and other anions are also included. This article focuses mainly on the Si-O anions. Silicates comprise the majority of the earth's crust, as well as the other...

s), have been observed erupting from vents associated with the "tiger stripes
Tiger Stripes (Enceladus)
The tiger stripes of Enceladus consist of four sub-parallel, linear depressions in the south polar region of the Saturnian moon. First observed on May 20, 2005 by the Cassini spacecraft's Imaging Science Sub-system camera , the features are most notable in lower resolution images by their...

" in the south polar region of Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

's moon Enceladus
Enceladus (moon)
Enceladus is the sixth-largest of the moons of Saturn. It was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel. Until the two Voyager spacecraft passed near it in the early 1980s very little was known about this small moon besides the identification of water ice on its surface...

 by the Cassini orbiter. The mechanism by which the plumes are generated remains uncertain, but they are believed to be powered at least in part by tidal heating resulting from orbital eccentricity
Orbital eccentricity
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical body is the amount by which its orbit deviates from a perfect circle, where 0 is perfectly circular, and 1.0 is a parabola, and no longer a closed orbit...

 due to a 2:1 mean motion orbital resonance
Orbital resonance
In celestial mechanics, an orbital resonance occurs when two orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other, usually due to their orbital periods being related by a ratio of two small integers. Orbital resonances greatly enhance the mutual gravitational influence of...

 with the moon Dione
Dione (moon)
Dione is a moon of Saturn discovered by Cassini in 1684. It is named after the titan Dione of Greek mythology. It is also designated Saturn IV.- Name :...

. These jets are believed to be the source of Saturn's E Ring.

One of the great surprises of the Voyager 2
Voyager 2
The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

flyby of Neptune
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

 in 1989 was the discovery of geyser-like eruptions on its moon, Triton
Triton (moon)
Triton is the largest moon of the planet Neptune, discovered on October 10, 1846, by English astronomer William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, which is an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet's rotation. At 2,700 km in diameter, it is...

. Astronomers noticed dark plumes rising to some 8 km above the surface, and depositing material up to 150 km downwind. These plumes represent invisible jets of gaseous nitrogen, together with dust. All the geysers observed were located close to Triton's subsolar point, indicating that solar heating drives the eruptions. It is thought that the surface of Triton probably consists of a semi-transparent layer of frozen nitrogen overlying a darker substrate, which creates a kind of "solid greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

", heating and vaporizing nitrogen below the ice surface it until the pressure breaks the surface at the start of an eruption. Voyager's images of Triton's southern hemisphere show many streaks of dark material laid down by geyser activity.

Similar solar heating-driven jets of gaseous carbon dioxide are believed to erupt from the south polar cap of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 each spring. While these eruptions have not yet been directly observed, they leave evidence in the form of dark spots and lighter fans atop the dry ice
Dry ice
Dry ice, sometimes referred to as "Cardice" or as "card ice" , is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is used primarily as a cooling agent. Its advantages include lower temperature than that of water ice and not leaving any residue...

, representing sand and dust carried aloft by the eruptions, and a spider-like pattern of grooves created below the ice by the out-rushing gas.

External links