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Cold Water Geyser in Idaho, USA: Soda Springs

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Soda Springs Geyser
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Phaldo, CC BY-SA 2.5.

An eruption of Idaho's Soda Springs Geyser.

A different type of geyser from those found in Yellowstone

North of America is home to the geyser capital of the world, which is Yellowstone Caldera, located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. About half of the world’s known 1,000 or so geysers are found at this location, and they are of the geothermal variety, originating with groundwater heated by magma that boils and erupts out of the ground.[1]

There is another type that is far less common than those created by geothermal forces, which is called a cold water geyser. This type is more rare worldwide, and erupts due to a buildup of dissolved carbon dioxide in the water, and the eruptions are much like a shaken soda can which explodes.[2]

Outside of Yellowstone, there are some other geysers found in North America, nearly all of which are of the cold water variety. Five of these are located in the state of Utah.[3] In this article I discuss what may be the best geyser in North America that is located outside of Yellowstone National Park, and it is in the state of Idaho.

Besides this one and the ones found in Utah, there are only three other cold water geysers in North America, and they are all smaller than the ones found in Idaho and Utah.[3]

After I share info about the Soda Springs Geyser, make sure to see the video below of of one of its beautiful eruptions.

Soda Springs Geyser in Idaho, USA

Consistent with the forces which propel this type of geyser, the Soda Springs are a group of thousands of naturally carbonated springs, and they were a landmark along the Oregon Trail during the 19th century.[4]

The carbonation of these springs originates with volcanic gases released deep underground, and thus they are actually geothermal in origin. Many of the springs are hot, although the geyser found here does not erupt due to geothermal heating, like the ones in Yellowstone located about 140 miles (225 km) to the northeast, but due to the buildup and periodic discharge of carbonation.[5]

Today the town of Soda Springs, Idaho hosts many tourists, and the geyser is located within a park that has a visitors center.[4]

The geyser itself first came into existence in 1937 when someone was drilling a few hundred feet down (over 100 meters), in an effort to locate hot water for a swimming pool, and the first eruption was inadvertently unleashed. In other words, the geyser wasn’t there when the Oregon Trail travelers were passing by the Soda Springs a few decades prior.[5]

The water at this location stays near 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) year round.  The geyser has been capped, and a timer has been installed, and eruptions are released exactly every 60 minutes.  Eruptions typically reach 100 feet (30 meters) in height.[5][3]

Geographical coordinates are: 420 39’ 26” North, 1110 36’ 19” West 

An eruption of the Soda Springs geyser

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Bibliography

  1. "The Top Five Places on Earth to See Geysers." InfoBarrel. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  2. "What is a Cold Water Geyser?." Tano Calvenoa's Science Blog. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  3. "The Operation and Geography of Carbon Dioxide-Driven, Cold-Water “Geysers”." Alanglennon.com. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  4. "Soda Springs, Idaho." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  5. "Soda Springs Geyser." Wikipedia. 27/02/2015 <Web >

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