Hot spring

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"Hot springs" redirects here. For other uses, see Hot Springs (disambiguation).

A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth.


"Blood Pond" hot spring in Beppu, Japan

There is no universally accepted definition of a hot spring. For example, one can find the phrase hot spring defined as

The related term "warm spring" is defined as a spring with water temperature less than a hot spring by many sources, although Pentecost et al. (2003) suggest that the phrase "warm spring" is not useful and should be avoided.[14] The US NOAA Geophysical Data Center defines a "warm spring" as a spring with water between 20 and 50 °C (68 and 122 °F).

Sources of Heat[edit]

The water issuing from a hot spring is heated by geothermal heat, i.e., heat from the Earth's mantle. In general, the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. The rate of temperature increase with depth is known as the geothermal gradient. If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks. The water from hot springs in non-volcanic areas is heated in this manner.

In active volcanic zones such as Yellowstone National Park, water may be heated by coming into contact with magma (molten rock). The high temperature gradient near magma may cause water to be heated enough that it boils or becomes superheated. If the water becomes so hot that it builds steam pressure and erupts in a jet above the surface of the Earth, it is called a geyser. If the water only reaches the surface in the form of steam, it is called a fumarole. If the water is mixed with mud and clay, it is called a mud pot.

Note that hot springs in volcanic areas are often at or near the boiling point. People have been seriously scalded and even killed by accidentally or intentionally entering these springs.

Warm springs are sometimes the result of hot and cold springs mixing but may also occur outside of volcanic areas, such as Warm Springs, Georgia (frequented for its therapeutic effects by paraplegic U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who built the Little White House there).

Flow rates[edit]

Deildartunguhver, Iceland: the highest flow hot spring in Europe

Hot springs range in flow rate from the tiniest "seeps" to veritable rivers of hot water. Sometimes there is enough pressure that the water shoots upward in a geyser, or fountain.

High flow hot springs[edit]

There are many claims in the literature about the flow rates of hot springs. It should be noted that there are many more very high flow non-thermal springs than geothermal springs. For example, there are 33 recognized "magnitude one springs" (having a flow in excess of 2,800 liters/second) in Florida alone. Silver Springs, Florida has a flow of more than 21,000 liters/second. Springs with high flow rates include:

Therapeutic uses[edit]

Japanese open air hot spring in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama
Hammam Essalihine, Roman hot spring in Algeria

Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids, warm and especially hot springs also often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium. Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value some of these springs have, they are often popular tourist destinations, and locations for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities.[21][22][23]

Biota in hot springs[edit]

Main article: Thermophile

A thermophile is an organism — a type of extremophile — that thrives at relatively high temperatures, between 45 and 80 °C (113 and 176 °F).[24] Thermophiles are found in hot springs, as well as deep sea hydrothermal vents and decaying plant matter such as peat bogs and compost.

Algal mats growing in a New Zealand hot pool

Some hot springs biota are infectious to humans. For example:

Notable hot springs[edit]

Distribution of geothermal springs in the US
Macaques enjoying an open air hot spring or "onsen" in Nagano
Churning Caldron in Yellowstone National Park
Rock face in Ruby Beach with hot springs in the Olympic National Park, Washington State, USA
Lake Hévíz in Hungary, the largest thermal lake in Europe
Main article: List of hot springs

There are hot springs on all continents and in many countries around the world. Countries that are renowned for their hot springs include China, Costa Rica, Iceland, Iran, New Zealand, Peru, United States, Taiwan, and Japan, but there are hot springs in many other places as well:

Thermal water park in Bešeňová, Slovakia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MSN Encarta definition of hot spring". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  2. ^ Miriam-Webster Online dictionary definition of hot spring
  3. ^ Wordsmyth definition of hot spring
  4. ^ American Heritage dictionary, fourth edition (2000) definition of hot spring
  5. ^ Infoplease definition of hot spring
  6. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006. definition of hot spring
  7. ^ Wordnet 2.0 definition of hot spring
  8. ^ Ultralingua Online Dictionary definition of hot spring
  9. ^ Rhymezone definition of hot spring
  10. ^ Lookwayup definition of hot spring
  11. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia, sixth edition, article on hot spring
  12. ^ Don L. Leet (1982). Physical Geology (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-669706-2. "A thermal spring is defined as a spring that brings warm or hot water to the surface."  Leet states that there are two types of thermal springs; hot springs and warm springs.
  13. ^ "Water Words Glossary - Hot Spring". NALMS. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-04. [dead link]
  14. ^ a b Allan Pentecost, B. Jones, R.W. Renaut (2003). "What is a hot spring?". Can. J. Earth Sci. 40 (11): 1443–6. Bibcode:2003CaJES..40.1443P. doi:10.1139/e03-083.  provides a critical discussion of the definition of a hot spring.
  15. ^ For example, ambient ground temperature is usually around 55–57 °F (13–14 °C) in the eastern United States
  16. ^ US NOAA Geophysical Data Center definition
  17. ^ Terme di Saturnia, website
  18. ^ John W. Lund, James C. Witcher (December 2002). "Truth or Consequences, New Mexico- A Spa City" (PDF). GHC Bulletin 23 (4). 
  19. ^ W. F. Ponder (2002). "Desert Springs of Great Australian Arterial Basin". Conference Proceedings. Spring-fed Wetlands: Important Scientific and Cultural Resources of the Intermountain Region. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ The web site of the Roosevelt rehabilitation clinic in Warm Springs, Georgia
  22. ^ Web site of rehabilitation clinics in Central Texas created because of a geothermal spring
  23. ^ Analytical results for Takhini Hot Springs geothermal water:
  24. ^ Madigan MT, Martino JM (2006). Brock Biology of Microorganisms (11th ed.). Pearson. p. 136. ISBN 0-13-196893-9. 
  25. ^ Naegleria at eMedicine
  26. ^ Shinji Izumiyama, Kenji Yagita, Reiko Furushima-Shimogawara, Tokiko Asakura, Tatsuya Karasudani, Takuro Endo (July 2003). "Occurrence and Distribution of Naegleria Species in Thermal Waters in Japan". J Eukaryot Microbiol 50: 514–5. doi:10.1111/j.1550-7408.2003.tb00614.x. PMID 14736147. 
  27. ^ Yasuo Sugita, Teruhiko Fujii, Itsurou Hayashi, Takachika Aoki, Toshirou Yokoyama, Minoru Morimatsu, Toshihide Fukuma, Yoshiaki Takamiya (May 1999). "Primary amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri: An autopsy case in Japan". Pathology International 49 (5): 468–70. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1827.1999.00893.x. PMID 10417693. 
  28. ^ Southern New Mexico web site article about some local hot springs, including a warning about Naegleria fowler
  29. ^ CDC description of acanthamoeba
  30. ^ Miyamoto H, Jitsurong S, Shiota R, Maruta K, Yoshida S, Yabuuchi E (1997). "Molecular determination of infection source of a sporadic Legionella pneumonia case associated with a hot spring bath". Microbiol. Immunol. 41 (3): 197–202. doi:10.1111/j.1348-0421.1997.tb01190.x. PMID 9130230. 
  31. ^ Eiko Yabauuchi, Kunio Agata (2004). "An outbreak of legionellosis in a new facility of hot spring Bath in Hiuga City". Kansenshogaku zasshi 78 (2): 90–8. ISSN 0387-5911. PMID 15103899. 
  32. ^ Häring M, Rachel R, Peng X, Garrett RA, Prangishvili D (August 2005). "Viral diversity in hot springs of Pozzuoli, Italy, and characterization of a unique archaeal virus, Acidianus bottle-shaped virus, from a new family, the Ampullaviridae". J. Virol. 79 (15): 9904–11. doi:10.1128/JVI.79.15.9904-9911.2005. PMC 1181580. PMID 16014951. 
  33. ^ Spa: Belgium's healthy-living retreat, Gareth Bourne and Sarah Hajibagheri, The Independent, November 3, 2006
  34. ^ Jordan spring in Bad Oeynhausen (as of 10/18/2014)
  35. ^ Welcome Argentina: Turismo en Argentina 2009
  36. ^ Ravi Shanker, J.L. Thussu, J.M. Prasad (1987). "Geothermal studies at Tattapani hot spring area, Sarguja district, central India". Geothermics 16 (1): 61–76. doi:10.1016/0375-6505(87)90079-4. 
  37. ^ D. Chandrasekharam, M.C. Antu (August 1995). "Geochemistry of Tattapani thermal springs, madhya Pradesh, India—field and experimental investigations". Geothermics 24 (4): 553–9. doi:10.1016/0375-6505(95)00005-B. 
  38. ^ Kevin T. McCarthy, Thomas Pichler, Roy E. Price (2005). "Geochemistry of Champagne Hot Springs shallow hydrothermal vent field and associated sediments, Dominica, Lesser Antilles" (PDF). Chemical Geology 224: 55–68. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2005.07.014. 
  39. ^ Tourist wash in one of hot springs Kamchatka
  40. ^ Miller R. R., W.L. Minckley, S.M. Norris. 2005. Freshwater Fishes of México. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Pp. I–XXV, 1–490.
  41. ^ Wikipedia. Cyprinodon julimes.
  42. ^

Further reading[edit]

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