Cool Crystal Geyser

August 06, 2018



Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire 

Most geysers are natural features that erupt in volcanic areas. Groundwater comes into contact with unusually hot rock below the surface. They erupt as a mixture of boiling water and steam. Old Faithful and other geysers in Yellowstone National Park are prime examples.

However, Crystal Geyser, just south of Green River, Utah, is different. Over 80 years ago an exploratory oil well was drilled into a natural spring. The drillers didn’t find oil, but they did intercept a layer that confines effervescing carbon dioxide. When the production of carbon dioxide exceeds the confining pressure, it propels cold water through the well casing to a height that has historically reached as high as 130 ft (40 m). Current eruptions are much smaller, though, on the order of 3-30 ft (1-6 m), occurring on an irregular schedule of about 8-22 hours.

Calcite (the primary mineral in limestone) dissolves in the mild acid when carbon dioxide dissolves in water. Upon eruption, the acidity changes, depositing the calcite as travertine that's brightly colored by dissolved impurities.

Photo Details: Both images - Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T5; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Macintosh; Exposure Time: 0.0040s (1/250); Aperture: ƒ/10.0; ISO equivalent: 100; Focal Length: 28.0mm