Fly Geyser Erupting; Watch Nevada’s Strangest Natural Wonder At Work [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on February 6, 2013 8:58 AM EST

Fly Geyser
Fly Geyser was formed by failed well-drilling. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Fly Geyser, the breathtakingly odd formation on the ground of Fly Ranch in Gerlach, Nev., tells the story of how man vs. nature sometimes ends in a tie. The odd, bulbous formations that make up Fly Geyser are the result of not one, but two, failed well drilling efforts. The first came in the early 1900s, when parched ranch owners decided to build a well. They found water quickly, but unfortunately it was near-boiling and unfit for use. So, they capped the well but the leaking water left behind mineral deposits that soon formed the start of Fly Geyser, a 12-foot high cone of calcium carbonate.

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Another well was attempted nearby in the 1960s, but it also failed. Only this time, the failed well brought even more water to the surface and the mounting pressure caused the existing cone to rupture ins several places, putting Fly Geyser in a constant state of eruption. Here's a video of Fly Geyser erupting.

Geysers are, in and of themselves, not incredibly rare phenomenon. The upper basin of Yellowstone Park contains more than 180 geysers alone. What makes Fly Geyser such a unique geological feature are the exotic color patterns that play across it's bubbling, lumpy surface. The colors are formed by thermophilic algae, microscopic life forms that thrive in extreme temperatures. Regardless of varying environmental conditions, the ability of thermophiles to thrive in extremely hot environments like Fly Geyser lies in extremozymes, enzymes geared to work in extremely high temperatures. Normally, the amino acids in organic enzymes would be destroyed by the high heat, but the extremozymes in the themophilic algae at Fly Geyser keep the organisms alive and the geyser looking colorful.

Despite it's obvious appeal, Fly Geyser sits on private land and is not actively used as a tourist attraction. According to KSL-TV, the best way to book a visit may be to stop by Bruno's Country Club in Gerlach and ask the employees there to help you contact the ranch owners by phone. However, the Burning Man organization is working on developing the area around Fly Geyser as part of the Fly Ranch Project, which the group says "will preserve the most fragile components of this ecosystem, the Fly Geyser, while providing opportunities for enhanced human interaction with the ecosystem, including artistic, ecological, and technological components."

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