Geyser’s are a peculiar geologic feature. They are basically hot water randomly spraying into the air. After reading an article on geyser’s, though (http://geology.com/articles/geyser.shtml), I have learned a lot about them and the way they work. In our last class Dr. Pillar made a brief comment about geysers, saying that they occurred due to random hot spots after continental collisions. Since continental plates colliding does not create enough heat to form volcanoes, random hot spots occur which can lead to geysers.
In order for a geyser to take place there must be just the right conditions. There must be really hot rocks, a large amount of underground water and a pool of water on the surface. There must also be fissures to help with the explosion of water. Geysers are quite rare, only about 1000 in the world, most of which are located in the same 5 countries (U.S., Russia, Chile, New Zealand, and Iceland).
The cool water pooled at the top of the geyser will slowly drip down towards the hot rocks underneath. The water gets so hot that it starts to boil. The water wants to turn into steam, but because of the confined space and pressure from the cooler water above, it is unable to convert. Steam takes 1600 times more space than water, and there is not enough space for this underground. This water is termed “superheated water”, water that is so hot it would normally convert into steam, but because of the confined space it is unable to.
How often a geyser erupts is different for each geyser; most of the explosions are random and unpredictable. There are a few geysers, such as Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, that have been observed to go off approximately ever 90 minutes.
The tallest active geyser can be found in Yellowstone National Park. The Steamboat Geyser can blast water up to 300 feet into the air. One geyser, Waimangu in New Zealand, used to erupt 1600 feet into the air, but due to a landslide it has not erupted since 1902.
There are also cold water geysers. These are actually man made and are made from CO2 rich water. The water and CO2 is pressurized under ground and when a well is drilled the water burst into the air. Since many of these geysers are found in non-natural settings, they actually appear to look like park fountains.
Geysers are quite beautiful and after having researched them I would love to visit Yellowstone to actually witness one of the geysers erupt.