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Dec 12 / Dave Schumaker

The World’s Largest Geyser – Waimangu geyser

What was the largest geyser on earth?

waimangu-geyser
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa

Between 1900 and 1904, the Waimangu Geyser (waimangu is Māori for “black water”) near Rotorua, New Zealand would consistently erupt to heights of at least 150 meters, and sometimes reached the incredible height of 460 meters (1,500 feet)! It only existed for a relatively short period of time, but managed to attract a good number of tourists.

The geyser’s life was brief and spectacular. Eruptions of muddy water and large rocks to heights of 150 metres were common, and there were occasional super-eruptions to the remarkable height of 460 metres. In comparison, the tallest currently-active geyser in the world (Steamboat geyser, in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming) erupts to maximum heights of 100 metres. The top of Auckland’s Sky Tower is about 330 metres above street level.

Not surprisingly, a tourist industry sprang up around Waimangu geyser. Accommodation for tourists, overlooking the geyser basin, was built in the summer of 1902–3. Throughout 1903, the geyser increased in activity, and increasing numbers of visitors flocked to see the spectacle. However, a tragic event occurred that year: four tourists ventured closer to get a better view, but were swept away and killed by a sudden eruption. The geyser began to wane in 1904, and by November of that year activity stopped as suddenly and inexplicably as it had started.

Currently, the largest active geyser in the world is the Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

steamboat_geyser
Source: Steam Boat Geyser, National Park Service

[Discovered via Daily Geology Links on Delicious - Wednesday 10th of December 2008]

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