OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Grand County ‘soda pop geyser’ erupts for the first time in years

May 17, 2023, 6:22 AM

(Utah Division of Water Resources)...

(Utah Division of Water Resources)

(Utah Division of Water Resources)

GRAND COUNTY, Utah — Crystal Geyser, in Grand County, is erupting for the first time in years.

Not technically a true geyser, this eruption of water is known as a “soda pop geyser,” because the cold-water eruptions look so similar to the popular Yellowstone phenomenon.

A geyser is created when pressure from hot steam shoots a tall column of water into the air, while soda pop geysers are created when a pocket of carbon dioxide mixes with the water until the water becomes oversaturated and then bursts the water out of the opening.

According to the Utah Geological Survey, the Geyser was discovered in 1936 when an exploratory oil well, the Ruby No. 1 was drilled. Workers encountered carbon dioxide gas deep below the surface, approximately 360 feet, which was extremely pressurized.

The well was eventually abandoned, but in its aftermath, a geyser was created.

The November 1936 front page of Moab’s Times-Independent boasted of a new geyser that spouted an 80-foot column of water at regular intervals of about 15 minutes and a 150-foot column at intervals of about 9 hours.

Today, the geyser’s eruptions have slowed down, though it’s uncertain whether that’s a result of geological changes beneath the surface or of rocks that people used to drop down into the geyser.

Because the eruptions are sporadic, sometimes more than 24 hours apart, being able to see the geyser in action can be difficult.

Studies conducted on the geyser over the last 20 years have tracked the frequency and height of eruptions using sensors. The studies found that minor eruptions ranged in height from 2-10 feet, while major eruptions gained heights of 40 -80 feet and occurred on a schedule ranging from 17 to 27 hours apart. The duration of eruptions ranged from 3-49 minutes.

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Grand County ‘soda pop geyser’ erupts for the first time in years