The Icelandic geyser, Geysir, mentioned in 1294 A.D. is where the term “geyser” originated. Islanders who witnessed the breathtaking power and beauty of the geyser blamed witchcraft, or ancestral spirits, for the intense eruptions. The required hydrogeological condition needed to form geysers is actually very rarely found around the world. Geyser activity is usually located around active volcanic areas. There are over 1000 known geysers worldwide, and Yellowstone National Park is home to more than 60% of the world’s active geysers. The world’s most famous and celebrated geyser is Old Faithful, just 58 miles and 2 hours from our lodging at Yellowstone Destinations.
1. What is a geyser?
Geysers begin approximately 6,600 feet below the Earth’s surface where groundwater meets hot rock and magma. The intense temperature of the rocks and proximity of volcanic magma bring the sunken surface water to a boil, known as superheating. The pressurized steam and hot water is then dissipated upward through the geysers various sinter (a hard siliceous or calcareous deposit precipitated from mineral springs) coated cracks and channels. This turbulent ejection of hot water is then followed by steam in an awesome reaction known as hydrothermal explosion.
Geyser activity can change over time depending on the mineral deposition within the plumbing, or channels, of the geyser. Moreover, the influence of nearby hot springs, earthquake activity, and human interventions all play a role in the changing or cessation of geyser eruptions. If you visit Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, you will find that has deservingly earned its name. This famous geyser erupts daily every 35 to 120 minutes with a duration of 1.5 to 5 minutes each time it vents.
2. Are geysers only pretty to watch?
No. Geysers actually have been used in other countries for alternative purposes. Iceland was the pioneer country in finding alternate uses for geysers when they figured out how to use the heated geyser water to heat dwellings. They now use the perfectly heated geyser water for cultivating tropical plants! The ability to use the extremely hot water to grow tropical plants in a greenhouse within the Polar Circle is incredible.
3. Where are most of the world’s geysers found?
There are five countries that are known to have geyser activity.
The United States has the largest collection of known active geysers. These are almost all located at Yellowstone National Park. The Park houses at least 500 of the world’s known active geysers. This equates to about 60% of the active geysers throughout the entire world!
Russia is the second largest region with active geysers. The Dolina Geiserov (Valley of Geysers) was discovered in 1941, and is reported to have approximately 200 active geysers.
Chile has approximately 80 true geysers, located high in the Andes.
New Zealand had as many as 200 active geysers at one time. The country has pushed forward with geothermal development and built a hydroelectric reservoir which has destroyed many of their previously active geysers. There are reportedly several dozen active geysers left in New Zealand at this time. Most of the currently active geysers can be found at Taupo Volcanic Zone.
Iceland has active geysers in various locations throughout the country.
4. Are all geysers the same?
No, they are not all the same. Some geysers erupt straight up in the air, shooting water close to 400 feet. However, there are geysers known as Ledge geysers. These special geysers shoot at an angle often times from a hillside. There are also 2 different kinds of geysers. One is with boiling water, as we have discussed. The other can erupt with hot or cold water since it is powered by gas pressure in the Earth’s surface. The geysers can vary in size, and can some discharge thousands of gallons of water.
5. Is Old Faithful the largest geyser in Yellowstone?
No. Old Faithful is not actually the largest or the most regular of the geysers found in Yellowstone National Park. The world’s tallest currently active geyser is known as Steamboat Geyser, and this is located in Yellowstone National Park as well. When Steamboat is erupting, it can shoot water almost 400 feet into the air! Steamboat Geyser is not as well-known as Old Faithful since it does not erupt on a predictable schedule. If you are able to witness this awesome event, it will last anywhere from 3 to 40 minutes. It is a challenge to see Steamboat erupt since the recorded eruptions range between 4 days and 50 years. The last documented eruption of Steamboat Geyser was September 3, 2014. You will know if you have just missed an eruption within the last 48 hours since steam will billow from the geyser during this time.
Booking Yellowstone National Park Vacation Rentals
The variety of guests seeking Yellowstone National Park vacation rentals this time of year usually increases with tourist season, so we are broadening our selection of Yellowstone cabin rentals to meet the growing demand for lodging near Yellowstone. If you would like to stay in Yellowstone Park this season for your vacation, be sure to check out our rentals near Yellowstone National Park and then give us a call today: 406-848-9911 or 800-903-1477. Our friendly staff will help you find the perfect cabin or lodging accommodation for your needs.