Geysers are some of the most awe-inspiring and rare natural phenomena in the world today. Officially, a geyser is a spring that is characterized by discharges of water and steam which are ejected forcefully. The word “geyser” actually comes from the Icelandic verb “geysa”, which means “to gush”. Geysers are rare because they can only be formed in areas of high volcanic activity due to the effects of magma from active volcanic areas on the eruption. Because of these high qualifications, there are only around 1000 active geysers in the world today.
*What a geyser needs to function
All true geysers (hot water geysers) MUST be near a volcanically active area, which usually occurs along fault lines in the tectonic plates. This is because, to function, a geyser must have access to magma in order to erupt. In addition to magma, the geyser also must have a plumbing system in place and must have an available reservoir of water. The combination of these can lead to the creation and eruption of geysers.
*How a geyser erupts
While scientists are not 100% sure how a geyser erupts, there is a widely accepted theory that almost all geologists agree on. The theory is that, in a volcanically active area, water from a spring works its way down into the ground until it comes into contact with the very hot rocks and magma below. The water cannot boil for some time due to the pressure of more water above it. Eventually, enough energy from the magma is infused into the water that steam is created. This expanding steam causes water at the top of the spring to rise up, and then the steam breaks through. When the steam breaks through, water, steam, and sometimes mud are thrown into the air (the height and force depends on the geyser).
While there are around 1,000 geysers in the world, over 500 of them are situated in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. This park is home to old faithful, perhaps the most famous geyser, who was given its name due to the regularity of its eruptions (which happen every 91 minutes on average). Geysers have also been formed in New Zealand, Iceland, and Russia, among other areas.
Geysers bring tourists from all around to watch the beauty and power, and they remain one of the earth’s natural wonders. While science has yet to completely understand geysers, the amazing style of their eruptions really can show us how powerful nature can be.