written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 4/5/2011
Are you interested in learning more about geysers? If so, read on to learn the important facts on geysers such as where they are located in the world, what conditions need to exist for their formation, and where they got their name.
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Geysers are Earth surface vents that periodically discharge a column of steam and hot water. Geysers greatly range in size and some of the larger geysers discharge thousands of gallons of boiling water into the air. This was can go hundreds of feet into the air. The world's most famous geyser is Old Faithful located in Yellowstone National Park. Knowing the facts on geysers make these rare natural features even more magnificent.
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What are the Conditions Required for a Geyser?
A coincidence of unusual conditions is necessary for geysers to occur. Understanding how and why geysers occur is crucial in understanding why they are located where they are. The conditions required for geysers include:
Hot rocks below
Ample ground water source
Subsurface water reservoir
Fissures so that water can be delivered to the surface
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Where are the World's Geysers Located?
Almost all of the geysers in the world are located in just five countries. All of these locations have hot rock below and are locations with geographically recent volcanic activity. These five countries include:
United States – Yellowstone National Park
Chile – El Tatio
Iceland – Many different locations
Russia – Dolina Geiserov
New Zealand – Taupo Volcanic Zone
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Basic Geyser Facts
Certain facts about geysers are basic, but still important to know.
There are approximately 1,000 geysers throughout the world and they are considered extremely rare features. Most of the world's geysers are located in Yellowstone National Park. The geysers in Yellowstone National Park were created long ago by volcanic eruption.
The name “geyser" originated in Iceland and in Icelandic it means “to gush or rush forth". The first geyser was discovered in Iceland in 1294 and called “The Great Geysir".
Many geysers erupt straight up into the air. However, some geysers, referred to as Ledge geysers, erupt out of a hillside at an angle.
Many geysers erupt due to the boiling of water. However, some geysers are powered by gas pressure and erupt from warm or cold springs.
Some geysers erupt at regular intervals and others only erupt on rare occasions. Only six of the geysers located in Yellowstone National Park erupt regularly and their eruptions are predicted by the park's rangers. These six geysers include Old Faithful, Great Fountain, Riverside, Castle, Daisy and Grand.
All hydrothermal features are called geysers once they erupt. Once a geyser has been named a geyser, it is always called a geyser even if they no longer erupt. Other hydrothermal features include mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles. There is one significant difference between hot springs and geysers: steam and water cannot flow through the cracks in a geyser's rock because these cracks are too narrow.
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Geology.com. (2010). What is a Geyser? Retrieved on April 16, 2010 from Geology.com: http://geology.com/articles/geyser.shtml
Glennon, A. (2008). About Geysers. Retrieved on April 5, 2011 from University of California, Santa Barbara: http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~glennon/geysers/