Geysers and Hotsprings

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Information about Geysers and Hotsprings

Published on December 11, 2008

Author: tcooper66


HOT SPRINGS AND GEYSERS The Walker School Physical Geology

Hotsprings  A spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the earth's crust.  Can be found in many regions of the world.  Occur where water temperature is below the boiling point.  Mineral Content: gray to Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone. white geyserite, a hydrated silicon dioxide.

Source of Heat (Non-Volcanic Origin)  Heated by geothermal heat, i.e., heat from the Earth's interior.  the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. The rate of temperature increase with depth is known as the geothermal gradient.  If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks.

Source of Heat (Volcanic Origin)  Water may be heated by coming into contact with magma.  If the water only reaches the surface in the form of steam, it is called a fumarole. Fumaroles escape through Fourpeaked Glacier covering Fourpeaked Volcano in Alaska

Details of Fumaroles  Occur along tiny cracks or long fissures, in chaotic clusters or fields, and on the surfaces of lava flows and thick deposits of pyroclastic flows.  Typically boils off all or most its water before the water reaches the surface.  They are static and do not change in appearance over Sampling gases at a fumarole on Mount time. Baker in Washington, USA.  Gasses emitted: carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide.

Mudpots  If the water is mixed with mud and clay, it is called a mud pot.  Mudpots form in high- temperature geothermal areas where water is in short supply.  The thickness of the mud usually changes along with seasonal changes in Mudpot in Hverir, Námafjall, Iceland the water table.

Details of Mudpots  Water comes from rainfall and snow melt throughout the year.  Contains fumes, like fumaroles, such as hydrogen sulfide is oxidized in the water by chemical reactions.  Contains high levels of Sulfolobus (a primitive bacteria) which forms sulfuric acid.  Sulfuric Acid attacks the rocks like strong battery acid, disintegrating the rock and Sulfurous fumaroles, Whakaari/White creating a mud pot. Island, New Zealand  Can dry out and revert to a fumarole.

Pools  Hot springs that have enough water that comes to the surface to keep the fluid from entirely boiling away and carry away the mud and debris.  Water is near the boiling point and does not support the growth of colorful bacteria or algae.  Color of some pools is not Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone; because of bacteria or algae, but the largest hot springs pool in the world. because the water is so clear and pure, it reflects the sunlight and refracts it like a prism.

Geysers  A geyser is a hot spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected as a turbulent eruption that is accomplished by a vapor phase.  Erupts water at or usually above the boiling point.  About a thousand geysers exist worldwide, roughly half of which are in Yellowstone National Park. Castle Geyser, Yellowstone

World’s Major Known Geyser Fields #5 Geysier, #1 Yellowstone Haukadalur, Iceland National Park, #2 Dolina Wyoming Geizerov, Kronotsky Nature Preserve #3 El Tatio El Loa Province, Chili #4 Rotorua, Taupo Areas, North Island, New Zealand

Cone Type Geysers  Most have a geyserite cone at the ground surface.  Just below the ground is a narrow constriction.  Often spray water during the quite intervals between eruptions.  Make up most of the famous geysers around the world. Atomizer Geyser in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin

Fountain Type Geysers  Have open craters at the surface that fill with water during an eruption.  Steam bubbles cause bursting and spraying eruptions.  The most common type of Iceland’s Geysir, largest fountain geyser geyser, most are small in the world. but a few are some of the largest in the world.

Bubble Shower Springs  Undergo intermittent episodes of vigorous surface boiling because of rising superheat water.  Most are small in size, and eruptions only reach a few inches in height.  Some scientists want to Yellowstone’s Crested Pool classify them as intermittent springs, rather than geysers.

Soda Pop Geysers  Erupt ice cold water.  Powered by the release of carbon dioxide.  Interesting, but not considered a true geyser. Crystal geyser, Utah

Thermophilic Life  At 170 F – Thermus aquaticus (yellow or pale pink) Thermus aquaticus  At 167 F – Synechococcus and Chloroflexus (blue- green) Synechococcus Chloroflexus  At 120 F – Cyanidium (true algae) Cyanidium

Geological Requirements - Water  How much water is available (needs upwards of 10,000 gals per eruption)  Many require presence of high snow melt and rain.  Yellowstone’s hot springs require 600 million gallons of water per day. Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park requires 12 million gallons per day.

Geological Requirements - Heat  Most geyser fields are young volcanic areas.  Water is heated by contact with the rocks and can get as hot as 650 F.  It remains liquid, rather than being vaporized, because of the high pressures and confinement of the rock strata, typically at 13,000 feet or more below the Earth’s surface.  Movement of water in the system is very slow, and water can take up to 1,100 years to travel from surface to base and back to the surface during an eruptions.  Yellowstone system releases 70 trillion calories of heat per day, which could melt 23,000 pounds of snow per second.

Geological Requirements - Rock  Rock below geysers are mostly sand and gravel deposited by rivers. Rhyolite  Below this layer of the geyser field, where the temperature is high and the pressure is great exist igneous rocks such as rhyolite.  Rhyolite is the source of the silica that forms greserite, which is percipitated on the wall of the hydrothermal vent.  Deposits grow at an average of 1 cm per 100 years. Greserite, a silica, which forms intricate patterns and beads.

Geological Requirement - Plumbing  Network of Underground Fractures (maintain water supply)  Chambers (boiling water)  Constrictions close to the Surface (which help to maintain pressure)

How Geysers Erupt Eruption Indicators •Intermittent Overflow Continues Until? •Some Bubbling 1. Geyser runs out of water. •Small Splashes 2. Geyer runs out of energy. New Zealand’s Waimangu Water needs to boil and raise the Geyers, whose name means temperature high enough to overcome the “Black Water”, was by far the weight of the water column. largest geyser ever known. Active between 1900 and 1904.

Dating Geysers  Uranium-Thorium dating of old sinter deposits.  Radiocarbon dating of petrified wood.  Belong to recent volcanic activity; most range from 10,000 to The sinter cone of Castle Geyser, 25,000 years old. Yellowstone, is dated to over 500 years.

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