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Five Cold Water Geysers in Utah

By Edited Oct 24, 2016 1 0
Crystal Geyser
Credit: Public domain.

Crystal Geyser near Green River, Utah.

Utah is the cold water geyser capital of the world

Cold water geysers are few in number compared with the more common type of geyser, which is the geothermal variety most famously found in Yellowstone National Park plus other superb places around the world.[1] The number one place on Earth for cold water geysers is the southern half of Utah in the USA.[2]

There are a total of five in southern Utah,[2] and with the description of each one I provide geographical coordinates which pinpoint their location should you want to locate them on a map and/or in person.

Cold water geysers form by a buildup of carbon dioxide, and erupt much like a shaken soda can being opened.[3] The geothermal ones on the other hand erupt due to groundwater boiling as a result of magma from a volcano.[1] Cold water geysers are therefore often located nowhere near a volcano, as in the case of those discussed below.

#1 - Crystal Geyser

Crystal Geyser eruption
Credit: Public domain.

Located near a small town (under 1,000 residents) in southeastern Utah, near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, this geyser already existed naturally, but was altered when it was drilled in a search for oil in 1935.[4]

The area is dry and similar to what’s seen in the old Road Runner and Coyote cartoons. The town is located on the Green River, which runs south past the town and eventually joins the Colorado River. The geyser sits about 150 feet (45 meters) east of the Green River, very close to the river, about three miles (5 km) south of the town’s limits. [4]

Prior to the well being drilled, the surrounding travertine rock, which is a form of limestone associated with hot mineral springs, was white.  Since the drilling, the travertine that has built up over decades is orange in color. [4]

When the well was first drilled, it was 800 meters (2,700 feet) deep.  Since then it has filled in, and is now about 200 meters (660 feet) deep.[4]

For reasons unknown, eruptions occur 8 hours or 22 hours from the last eruption. Two-thirds of the time, it will be the 8 hour interval. Eruptions last either 7 to 32 minutes (in this time range), or 98 to 113 minutes (in a much longer time range). This odd sort of timing is seen in some other geysers, both geothermal and cold water.[4][2]

Water used launch over 40 meters (135 feet) into the air during eruptions, although more recently eruptions have been lower, sometimes only a few feet high and typically under 20 feet (six meters).[4]

Geographical coordinates are: 380 56’ 18” North, 1100 8’ 7” West

#2 - Chaffin Ranch Geyser

Chaffin Ranch Geyser
Credit: Photo source unknown.

Twelve miles (19 km) south of Crystal Geyser is another cold water geyser, located just a few hundred feet (just over 100 meters) north of the San Rafael River, which connects to the Green River about one mile (1.6 km) from where the geyser is located.[2]

The name of the road, of which the geyser is found at the very end, is Chaffin Ranch Rd.  It is a remote area with dirt roads.  About another 19 miles (31 km) further south is the border of Canyonlands National Park.  The state highway (Highway 24) which runs nearby, to the west of the geyser, connects Interstate 70 near the town of Green River to Capitol Reef State Park to the southwest.[2]

This geyser is smaller than the two discussed above, usually shooting water about 15 feet (5 meters) high, and sometimes higher.  Eruptions typically last between 5 to 20 minutes, and occur every two to three hours.[2]

The geyser is also called Champagne Geyser.  It was created by a team drilling core samples, searching for oil, in the 1930s.[2]

Geographical coordinates are: 380 45’ 49” North, 1100 7’ 39” West

#3 - Woodside Geyser

Woodside Geyser
Credit: Photo by Tim Wheat at Knowonk.com.

Twenty-six miles (42 km) north of the town of Green River is a ghost town, abandoned in 1970, which features a cold water geyser.  The ex-town is located along a highway, designated as US Routes 6 and 191, which connects from Green River toward the Salt Lake City area.[2]

The geyser was once a popular tourist stop, although now it is visited much less than it used to be.  Also, the geyser’s height has diminished over time.  It used to top 75 feet (23 meters), although now reaches between 20 and 30 feet (six to nine meters).  Eruptions are typically long, up to 1.5 hours in length, and separated by about 30 minutes of calm.[2]

This geyser is also called Roadside Geyser.  Like all geysers on this page, it came into existence due to drilling.  This one became active when a well was being dug in the 1880s.[2]

Geographical coordinates are: 390 15’ 54” North, 1100 20’ 53” West

#4 - Ten Mile Geyser

Ten Mile Geyser
Credit: Photo source unknown.

Remote and fairly difficult to find, this one sits in a wash which follows a fault cutting diagonally across the desert.  The location is approximately halfway between Crystal Geyser and Chaffin Ranch Geyser, and about two miles (3.2 km) east of the Green River.[2]

This geyser blasts water between one to three meters (3 to 10 feet) high, and it erupts infrequently, usually about every 6.5 to 7 hours.  In the region nearby are other springs, and one that bubbles up and almost resembles a geyser, and has been dubbed “Pseudo Ten Mile Geyser.”[2]

Geographical coordinates are: 380 51’ 46” North, 1100 6’ 5” West

#5 - Tumbleweed Geyser

Tumbleweed Geyser
Credit: From YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdxpPxu9RhA

Also remote, when seen from an aerial photo it stands out rather obvious, although it is small.  It looks like a pond in the desert, just 250 meters (825 feet) west of the Green River.  It is north of Chaffin Ranch Geyser and on the same side of the river (west of it), and southwest of Ten Mile Geyser.[2]

Out of this pond, the geyser spouts and spurts for long periods, often 45 minutes to 1.5 hours at a time.  In between eruptions, it is calm for typically less than ten minutes.  Like Woodside Geyser discussed above, this one is erupting more than it is calm.[2]

The eruptions of Tumbleweed Geyser are not large, and usually less than five feet (1.5 meters) in height.  It is most easily hiked to from Chaffin Ranch Geyser at the end of Chaffin Ranch Rd.[2]

Geographical coordinates are: 380 49’ 11” North, 1100 7’ 39” West

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Bibliography

  1. "The Top Five Places on Earth to See Geysers." InfoBarrel. 28/02/2015 <Web >
  2. "The Operation and Geography of Carbon Dioxide-Driven, Cold-Water “Geysers”." Allanglennon.com. 28/02/2015 <Web >
  3. "What is a Cold Water Geyser?." Tano Calvenoa's Science Blog. 28/02/2015 <Web >
  4. "Crystal Geyser." Wikipedia. 28/02/2015 <Web >

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