Savusavu Hot Springs
There are several groups of hot springs in Fiji, but the best known are Savusavu Hot Springs. Today these springs are fervently boiling but at the end of the 19th century here formed even impressive geysers.
Map of the site
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Hot springs on the beach
There are several groups of hot springs in Savusavu town. Many springs are lined along the beach and quite a few of them are located below the high tide and their steam is seen only at low tide.
One group of hot springs is located further inland. There is a hot stream leaving this group and flowing towards the sea – it was a beloved place for Fijians to bathe.
Water in springs is boiling – the temperature of water often is at 100° C. Geophysical analysis shows that deeper the water temperature might be even 170° C.
The water of Savusavu Hot springs is slightly bitter – saline. It is considered that a smaller amount of seawater manages to mix into the spring water.
As these hot springs are located far from any other hot springs, here have developed unique, endemic bacteria, able to survive in high temperatures.
Savusavu Hot springs (or, as earlier was considered to be correct – Nasavusavu Hot springs) were well known to Fijians. Local people had a practical use for these springs – they boiled their food here. In the 19th century, they told Europeans that such springs here have existed for as long as they can remember.
Description by Dana
The first scientific description of these springs was given by the prominent American geologist James D. Dana and published in 1846. He did not see the springs himself but according to the stories of other members of the United States Exploring Expedition these springs behaved like small geysers – they were "boiling fountains".
Dana wrote that in Savusavu village was one hot spring. At some distance from the sea were five boiling springs with jets of water and one mud pool. Water from these springs forms a boiling pool with a stream leaving it.
Dana wrote also that at the beach were two groups of springs, divided by an approximate distance of 280 m. One group of these springs was located around a large basalt rock. The rock was very hot and springs formed low fountains.
Another author – Gordon Cumming in 1876 mentions three springs with intermittent fountains. John Horne in 1878 mentions that the jets of boiling water are up to one foot high.
In 1898 the springs were visited by botanist H.B.Guppy. He was lucky to see true geysers – geothermal activity turned the springs into intermittent fountains which sometime before the visit of Guppy spouted at different angles up to 12 – 18 m high. Each burst lasted for 10 – 20 minutes and was followed by a similar "silent" period.
This geyser activity continued for some months and then springs returned to their normal regime.
Development of resort
The pleasant Savusavu town was appreciated as an excellent resort already in the 1870s. For a while, this place was considered one of the potential capitals of Fiji.
In the 1970s the only hotel in the town changed its owners and was turned into the luxurious Hot Springs Hotel. This time started the flourishing of Savusavu. Nowadays Savusavu is a beloved holiday retreat for many Europeans, Americans, and Australians.
- Wright, C.H., The Hot Springs at Nasavusavu. Analyst, 1926, vol. 51, pp. 235-237.
- Dana, James D., United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., Geology., 1846
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Hasty hydrogeologists would say: geysers are thermodynamically and hydrodynamically unstable hot springs. “Normal” people would say – geysers are hot springs that 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!
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