Academic journal article Science Scope

Geysers Have Loops in Their Plumbing

Academic journal article Science Scope

Geysers Have Loops in Their Plumbing

Article excerpt

Geysers such as Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park erupt periodically because of loops or side chambers in their underground plumbing, according to recent studies by a team of volcanologists.

The key to geysers, says Michael Manga, a member of the research team, is an underground bend or loop that traps steam and then bubbles it out slowly to heat the water column above until it is just short of boiling. Eventually, the steam bubbles trigger sudden boiling from the top of the column, releasing pressure on the water below and allowing it to boil as well. The column essentially boils from the top downward, spewing water and steam hundreds of feet into the air.

Fewer than 1,000 geysers exist around the world--half of them in Yellowstone--and all are located in active or formerly active volcanic areas. Water from the surface trickles downward and gets heated by hot magma, eventually, perhaps decades later, rising back to the surface in the form of hot springs, mud pots, and geysers.

In his most recent study, Manga and his students report on El Jefe ("the chief"), a geyser located at an elevation of about 4,267 m (14,000 ft.) in the El Tatio geyser feld in Chile, where water boils at 86[degrees]C (187[degrees]F) instead of 100[degrees]C (212[degrees]F). In 2012, they recorded internal and external data during 3,600 eruptions over six days. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.