Mount Recheshnoi Geyser field, Umnak

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One of geysers in Mount Recheshnoi Geyser Field, Alaska
One of geysers in Mount Recheshnoi Geyser Field / © Susan Ott Ralph
Alaska has many places with interesting geothermal features but only one has true geysers – Mount Recheshnoi Geyser field on Umnak Island.

History

Hot springs in this location were first mentioned in written sources by Baltic geologist of Dutch descent Constantin von Grewingk in 1850. Local Aleuts for sure knew about these geysers much longer.

More thorough research took place in 1947, 1980 and 1988.

Location

All geysers are located in wide valley at the foot of Mount Recheshnoi volcano. This valley has been formed by glacier and now here flows a stream – Geyser Creek.

Geothermal energy is provided by the plume of magma under Mount Recheshnoi. Water below the ground level is superheated – it is considered that the temperature of steam deep under the ground exceeds 265 °C.

Hydrothermal features are spread along the Geyser Creek and its tributaries over an area of 4 km².

Geysers are found in three locations: site G (53.213328° -168.468362°), site H 1 km to the east (53.211382° -168.452679°) and site J 470 m to the south (53.209769° -168.472033°). (2)

Here are found not just geysers but also natural fountains, boiling (effervescent) springs and mud pools.

As it is usual in most geyser fields in the world, as the time goes, the number of active geysers is changing.

One characteristic though makes the geysers of Umnak unique – the water of these hot springs contains much boron and arsenic.

Site G

In this site in 1947 were reported 1 geyser and 1 fountain. In 1980 here were 4 geysers. In 1988 here was 1 geyser and 6 fountains, which were up to 30 cm high.

The geyser in 1988 represented a water filled bowl of sinter. Every 12 minutes it erupted 0.2 m high. Back in 1870 it was 0.6 m tall.

Site H

Here in 1947 were 3 geysers, in 1980 – 3 geysers and 1 fountain, in 1988 – 3 geysers and 3 fountains. One of fountains in 1988 was up to 0.7 m tall – this same fountain in 1947 was a geyser, which erupted every 2.5 – 3.5 minutes.

One geyser in 1988 was up to 2 m high, another one – 0.5 m high.

Site J

Here at a smaller creek have formed serveral geothermal features. In 1947 this location has not been mentioned, in 1980 here was 1 geyser. In 1988 here was found 1 geyser – a small pool, where approximately once per hour were emitted gases and increased water flow.

References

  1. Christopher J.Nye, Roman J. Motyka, Donald L. Turner, Shirley A.Liss. Geology and Geochemistry of the Geyser Bight Geothermal Area, Umnak Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska. 1990.
  2. F.M. & Brannock, W.W. Byers, Volcanic Activity on Umnak and Great Sitkin Islands, 1946 – 1948.

Images

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Mount Recheshnoi Geyser field, Umnak 53.213328, -168.468362 Mount Recheshnoi Geyser field, Umnak
Coordinates: 53.2133 N 168.4684 W (central area)
Categories: Thermal springs, Geysers
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: (3 / 5)
Address: North America, United States, Alaska, Aleutian Islands, central part of Umnak, north – east from Mount Recheshnoi, in three locations in the valley of Geyser Bight – closer to the head of Geyser Creek
Height: 2 m
Number of geysers: 5 (1988)
Number of fountains: 9 (1988)

Landmarks of Alaska

Mount Shishaldin at sunset, Aleut Islands
Mount Shishaldin at sunset / Erik Beach, 2007, / public domain
This far northern land is very diverse and its landscape is spectacular. Alaska though is not very rich with separate, specific landmarks – this is a land which brings a very special emotional experience as a whole. Singling out some specific landmarks here feels somehow out of place – Alaska is magnificent with its wast glaciers, supertall mountains, numerous active volcanoes, endless forests, deep canyons.

Geysers

Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984
Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984 / Roger Goodman, Flickr.CC BY-SA 2.0.
Hasty hydrogeologist would say: geysers are thermodynamically and hydrodynamically unstable hot springs. “Normal” people would say – geysers are hot springs which at more or less regular intervals shoot up a fountain of boiling water and steam. Sometimes these fountains are even 100 m tall… or even 450 m!

Recommended books

Umnak: The People Remember: An Aleutian History


An Aleutian history compiled by Tyler M. Schlung and students of the Nikolski School, Umnak Island, Alaska.

Aerial Geology


Aerial Geology is an up-in-the-sky exploration of North America’s 100 most spectacular geological formations. Crisscrossing the continent from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to the Great Salt Lake in Utah and to the Chicxulub Crater in Mexico, Mary Caperton Morton brings you on a fantastic tour, sharing aerial and satellite photography, explanations on how each site was formed, and details on what makes each landform noteworthy.

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