Thar she blows

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 5.42.17 PMIf you’ve been to Yellowstone National Park, you’ve surely seen one of the world’s most famous geysers. About every hour to an hour and a half, Old Faithful shoots a towering plume of hot water and steam into the air. Crowds of camera-laden tourists swarm at a safe distance — as do scientists.

Old Faithful’s reliable blasts provide a natural laboratory for studying how boiling water jets out of the ground and into the air. In an overview for the new Knowable magazine, I explore the geophysics behind geysers. Check it out to learn how the combination of geothermal heat, underground plumbing, and water results in these fantastic, steam-powered eruptions. There’s a neat accompanying video by Lindzi Wessel as well.

(Image: New Zealand’s Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.)