A One-Of-A-Kind Geothermal Wonder

Fly Geyser, also known as Fly Ranch Geyser is a small geothermal geyser located on private land in Washoe County, Nevada, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Gerlach. It is actually human-made. In June 2016, the non-profit Burning Man Project purchased the 3,800 acres (1,500 ha) Fly Ranch, including the geyser, for $6.5 million. The Burning Man Project began offering limited public access to the property in May 2018. The geyser contains thermophilic algae, which flourish in moist, hot environments, resulting in multiple hues of green and red, coloring the rocks.

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The fly geyser contains thermophilic algae, which flourish in moist, hot environments, resulting in multiple hues of green and red, coloring the rocks

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The first geyser at the site was formed in 1916

The source of the Fly Geyser field’s heat is attributed to a very deep pool of hot rock where tectonic rifting and faulting are common. The first geyser at the site was formed in 1916 when a well was drilled seeking irrigation water. When geothermal water close to the boiling point was found, the well was abandoned, and a 10–12-foot (3.0–3.7 m) calcium carbonate cone formed.

In 1964, a geothermal energy company drilled a second well near the site of the first well. The water was not hot enough for energy purposes. They reportedly capped the well, but the seal failed. The discharge from the second well released sufficient pressure that the original geyser dried up. Dissolved minerals in the water, including calcium carbonate and silica, accumulated around the new geyser, creating the cones and travertine pools.

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