A geyser is a vent on Earth’s surface that periodically ejects a column of hot water and steam. Even a small geyser is an amazing phenomenon; however, some geysers have eruptions that blast thousands of gallons of boiling-hot water up to a few hundred feet in the air.
To understand how a geyser works, you must first understand the relationship between water and steam. Steam is a gaseous form of water. Steam is produced when water is heated to its boiling point. When water converts into steam at surface conditions, it undergoes an enormous expansion because steam occupies 1600 times as much space as the original volume of water. The eruption of a geyser is powered by a “steam explosion” when boiling-hot water suddenly expands into much more voluminous steam.
Old Faithful is the world’s best-known geyser. It is located in Yellowstone National Park (USA). Old Faithful erupts every 60 to 90 minutes and blasts a few thousand gallons of boiling-hot water between 100 and 200 feet into the air.
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