CO2 shakes up theory of how geysers spout | Science News

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CO2 shakes up theory of how geysers spout

Rising levels of gases lower water’s boiling point, prompting eruptions

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7:00am, March 21, 2016
Geyser

RAGING WATERS  Carbon dioxide is a crucial ingredient for eruptions of Spouter Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, new research suggests. The gas lowers the boiling point of the geyser water.

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Monitoring the innards of Yellowstone’s gurgling geysers, scientists report in two new studies  that carbonation helps the geysers erupt like shaken cans of soda.

During the buildup to an eruption of Yellowstone’s Spouter Geyser, carbon dioxide accumulates in the geyser water, researchers report online March 7 in Geology. The dissolved gas lowers the water’s boiling point and triggers an eruption. This phenomenon may occur elsewhere in Yellowstone. Several of the park’s other geysers, including Old Faithful, also contain abundant CO2 and other dissolved gases, a separate research team reports in the March Geology.

The findings overturn the 150-year-old explanation that hot water alone fuels geyser eruptions, says Jacob

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