Geysers are a rare phenomenon because they require a specific set of conditions to occur. Generally geysers can be found near active volcanic areas where there is an abundant source of subterranean heat. Underground water or surface water percolating down comes in contact with hot rocks and expands into steam that forces boiling water out of the surface through a vent, and a geyser is said to have born. Human activities have also given birth to a number of geysers. Usually an oil drilling company or someone who’s looking for water would accidentally poke a hole through a chamber of pressurized water, and if there is enough underground water, the geyser would erupt for years to come. Again, some artificial geysers are created deliberately to provide the local population with a source of hot water and energy.
Some of these artificial geysers have become tourist attractions. Here are some of the most famous accidentally created geysers around the world.
Fly Geyser is one of the best known example of an accidentally created geyser. It is located in Washoe County, Nevada, in the United States, about 32 km north of Gerlach, and less than a mile from State Route 34. The geyser was created in 1916 during the drilling of a well. The well functioned normally for several decades, but then in the 1960s geothermally heated water found a weak spot in the wall and began escaping to the surface. Dissolved minerals started rising and piling up, creating a mound stained with fascinating colors, on which the geyser sits. Its brilliant colors are due to thermophilic algae.
The geyser contains several terraces discharging water into 30 to 40 pools over an area of 74 acres. The mound is 5 feet high from the top of which water shoots another 5 feet into the air. The mound is still growing to date.
Crystal Geyser is located on the east bank of the Green River approximately 7 km downstream from Green River, in Utah, in the United States. Unlike most geysers that spew hot water, Crystal Geyser is a cold geyser. Cold water geysers erupt due to continual buildup of carbon dioxide in the water, and the eruptions are like a shaken soda can being opened. Cold water geysers are much less common than the geothermal variety, and an artificially created cold geyser is even rarer.
The geyser was created in 1936 when an exploratory oil well was drilled to a depth of 800 meters and unknowingly tapped into a carbon dioxide charged aquifer at around 215 meters. Since then the geyser has been periodically erupting while expelling large quantities of carbon dioxide and travertine-depositing water. It erupts every 8 to 22 hours sometimes as long as 30 minutes. The water can shoot up as high 40 meters, but these days the eruptions are less than 6 meters high. Researchers studying the geyser believe it's been partially plugged by people throwing rocks into the hole who believe that doing so could trigger the geyser.
Crystal geyser, when not erupting. Photo credit
Soda Springs Geyser
Soda Springs, in Idaho, in the United States, has the only controlled geyser in the world. It was discovered in 1937 when a local man was drilling around to find a hot water source for a swimming pool, and accidentally penetrated an underground chamber 315 feet down. The chamber was filled with pressurized carbon dioxide gas and water that shot out with a lot of energy. However, unlike natural geysers that erupt periodically, the Soda Springs Geyser began spraying continuously. So the geyser was capped and controlled by a timer releasing it every hour on the hour. On windless days, the geyser is reported to reach heights between 100 and 150 feet.
There is a Visitor Center nearby and a boardwalk around the geyser and grassy areas with picnic tables and benches to enjoy the day and view the geyser.
Slovakia’s only cold water geyser is located in the village of Herl'any in Košice-okolie district in the Košice Region in eastern Slovakia. In the 1870s, an artesian well was drilled here in pursue of a source of mineral water for the expanding spa in the area. The well was bore to the depth of 404 meters where it brought up a strong spring of the lukewarm water. The geyser erupts at intervals between 32 - 34 hours, with the water reaching a height of 15 meters. The eruption lasts approximately 26 minutes and has an average intensity from 25 to 30 liters per second. In 125 years of existence, the geyser has erupted more than 40,000 times and spewed 20 million liters of water.
This geyser located in the German town of Andernach is the tallest cold water geyser in the world. The geyser sprang forth the first time in 1903 when a borehole was drilled in search of mineral springs in the vicinity of the Namedyer Werth peninsula. Initially the geyser was used to produce and bottle mineral water, but damages suffered by the geyser during the first World War caused the bottling plant to cease operation. After the war ended, another company took the site on lease and began extracting carbon dioxide for the next thirty years when technical problems caused the site to shutdown again. The geyser was finally reactivated in 2006 as a tourist attraction.
Andernach Geyser typically erupts every two hours, for six to eight minutes at a time. It is located within a nature reserve, which is open April 1st to October 31st each year. The bitter cold winters make this area closed November 1st to March 31st.
Chaffin Ranch Geyser
Chaffin Ranch Geyser, the result of another drill operation, is located just 19 km south of Crystal Geyser about a 100 meters north of the San Rafael River, and 1.6 km from the point where it connects to the Green River. The geyser typically erupts every 2-4 hours, shooting water about 5 to 10 meters high. Eruptions typically last between 5 to 20 minutes. The geyser appears to be more reliable in the spring and summer, and it erupts less often in the late fall and winter. This is likely due to ground water levels.
Chaffin Ranch Geyser was created in the 1930s by a team drilling core samples, searching for oil.
Old Perpetual is located in Lake County, Oregon, in the United States, about 3 km north of Lakeview. The geyser was formed as a result of a well drilling attempt in the 1920s. Once formed, it became a beloved attraction and people came from all around to watch the eruptions and to soak in the nearby mineral pools. For more than 90 years, Oregon’s only geyser would shoot 200-degree Fahrenheit water 40 feet into the air every 30 seconds to two minutes. But in recent years, Old Perpetual is drying up. The geyser stopped functioning in June of 2009, but there are reports that Old Perpetual was erupting in May 2014.
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