Geysers

I had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park this Summer, which is home to half the world’s known geysers. I saw the Steamboat Geyser, which is considered the tallest geyser in the world when it erupts to over 300 feet. I also saw Castle Geyser, which is believed to be the oldest geyser in the world. It is estimated to be at least 5000 years old. By comparison Old Faithful is around 300 years old. I also spent one beautiful evening walking around the Grand Prismatic Spring, which at 370 feet in diameter is the third largest geyser in the world.

I had not realized it, but I was fascinated to learn that geysers are actually a pretty rare occurence. They exist mostly in just a few places around the world- Yellowstone, Kamchatka, Chile, New Zealand, and Iceland. In these places there is hot magma closer to the surface than in other places. There is also water and vents or cracks known as a plumbing system. But we still do not know a lot about geysers. And this is interesting because as we explore the solar system we are finding “geysers” where scientists never expected to find them- on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and on Triton, a moon of Neptune. I believe that learning more about geysers here on Earth will help scientists better understand “geysers” they are finding elsewhere in the solar system.

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