For the past few weeks, we have discussed igneous rocks and various forms of volcanoes. Once again, I will take a side road off this topic to one that is closely related to volcanoes. One topic that I have talked about in my blog is the effects that volcanoes have on the ecosystems around the them. It is fascinating the far reaching effects that volcanoes can cause on the globe. One of these effects are geysers. I’m sure the majority of people know what geysers are but for the few that do not, a geyser is a vent in the Earth’s surface that ejects hot water or steam. There are only 1000 geysers in the world that we know of and they only exist with the presence of volcanoes. A large amount of these geysers exist in our own Yellow Stone National Park. The best of which is known Old Faithful. Though a large amount exist in the United States, the top four other countries that have them are Russia, New Zealand, Iceland, and Chile.
Logically, there must be four conditions present for geysers to exist. The first is the need fort hot rocks below the water source. This leads into the next condition. There, of course, needs to be a large ground water source in order to create the steam. Another condition is a subsurface water reservoir must also be present. Lastly, fissures in the ground need to exist in so that the water can be transferred to the surface.
The eruption of a geyser is a pretty cool sight to see. As was stated before the most famous geyser is our own Old Faithful. This geyser erupts every 60-90 minutes. Unfortunately, due to low water levels the time delay between blasts has increased slightly. The tallest active volcano is Steamboat Geyser. It blasts water 300 feet into the air. The most spectacular blast to occur, though, was by the geyser called Waimangu in New Zealand. It shot hot water over 1600 feet into the air. The last time it erupted was in 1902 and it has to date ceased to erupt due to landslide that altered the hydrology of the area.
The actual cause of a geyser blast is a very simple concept. Steam expands to almost 1600 times the volume that water takes up. Basically, a steam explosion causes the water to shoot up to the surface. The water becomes super heated boiling water and suddenly expands into steam. The groundwater gets into this position because it percolates down into a hot magma chamber where the above physics occurs.
Another thought on the subject is whether geysers exist on other planets. As of right now there has been no evidence of this occurring. There has been frozen water particles that have erupted from vents below the surface of the ground on some planet’s moons.