What is a geyser and why is it produced - Summary

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The first known geyser in the world, called “Geysir”, is located in the Haukadalaur Valley, north of Lake Laugarvatn in South Iceland. Geysers are geothermal hydrogeology formations that are found in nature, in different parts of the planet, the territory most influenced by this phenomenon being Yellowstone National Park.

If you want to know what a geyser is and how it works, as well as where you can find these spectacular phenomena that nature offers, among other curiosities, be sure to read this interesting article by Green Ecologist about what is a geyser and why is it produced.

What is a geyser

The word geyser derives from Icelandic, specifically from the word “geysir”, which in turn comes from the German word “geysa”, which can be translated as “torrent” or “jet”. A geyser is a volcanic opening in the earth's crust that is directly connected by natural conduits to internal cavities or underground deposits. Through the geyser they go outside steam and water at high temperature intermittently and turbulently, you could say even violently.

How a geyser is formed

Why is a geyser produced? How is it formed? These normally originate, after a volcanic eruption. This occurs when underground water bodies come into contact with magma of the mantle and begin to heat up rapidly. The rate at which they heat causes them to increase in volume and, due to the build-up of pressure, is generated through the porous and fractured rocks. Once the water reaches the surface, both the water and the gases come out violently reaching an average height of up to 50 meters.

We recommend you read these other posts about volcanic eruptions: what they are and types and what are groundwater.

Geyser types

Depending on the characteristics of a geyser it's divided in two types:

Fountain geyser

It is one that erupts from a pool of water, that is, the water comes out of a large body of water, usually in a series of very intense explosions and the water is expelled in different directions. These eruptions can be defined as violent eruptions due to the great pressure that is produced. An example of a fountain geyser can be the "Great Fountain" located in Yellowstone National Park.

Cone geyser

In these, the water is expelled to the outside by a mound formed by silicon agglomerates or, also, known as geyserite (normally these mounds are cone-shaped, that is why the name “cone geyser”). When this type of geyser erupts, the water usually comes out in stable jets that usually last from a few seconds to many. A well-known example of a cone geyser is the "Old Faithful" also located in Yellowstone National Park.

Where are the geysers?

To the question "where do geysers occur?", It can be said that they are natural phenomena that occur in unique landscape ecosystems. These are the famous geyser spots:

  • At Yellowstone National Park, United States, are found almost half of all the geysers of the planet. One of them is the Steamboat geyser, the most powerful in the world since it can expel water up to 91 meters. However, it is not very active and its eruptions are unpredictable. Other examples of famous geysers in Yellowstone are Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes or so, Castle geyser that erupts roughly every 14 hours, Grand geyser has an eruption interval of 6 hours and 45 minutes, Daysy geyser highlights for launching the water totally vertically and its eruption interval is 2 hours and 45 minutes and, finally, it is worth mentioning the Riverside geyser standing out for its beauty, despite not being among the largest.
  • In addition to Yellowstone National Park, there are other places in the world where you can find these spectacular phenomena. For example in chiliThe largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere called “El Tatio” is located exactly in the Andean mountains.
  • In Iceland There are two well-known geysers the Great Geysir and the Strokkur, located in Haukadalur.
  • In New Zealand It is very famous as the Pohutu within the Te Puia tourist complex.
  • There are also geysers in other parts of the world such as Peru, Russia and Japan, among others.

What is the difference between a geyser and a hot spring

One of the differences between a geyser and a hot spring is the underground structure. In addition, another big difference occurs in the water's temperature. On the one hand, the water that is expelled from the geysers has a temperature that oscillates between 80 ºC and 100 ºC. On the other hand, the water that comes out and forms the hot springs, has a temperature above 36.5 ºC, the body temperature of a human being, so it is suitable for sanitary use and bathing and does not reach the high temperatures of a geyser.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is a geyser and why is it produced?We recommend that you enter our Nature Curiosities category.

  • Olivera Alegre, G. (2013). School of Tourism and Hospitality. THE GEYSERS OF PERU: CHARACTERISTICS AND TOURIST USE. Retrieved from: https://www.revistacultura.com.pe/revistas/RCU_27_1_los-geiseres-del-peru-caracteristicas-y-utilizacion-turistica.pdf
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