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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 368 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

The United States is abundantly supplied with hot springs, but geysers, outside of the Yellowstone region, are found only in California and Nevada.  Those of California exist chiefly in Napa Valley, north of San Francisco, in a canon or defile.  Their waters are impregnated not with silica, but with sulphur, and they thus approach more nearly in their character to mud-volcanoes, whose ejections are, in like manner, much impregnated with that substance.  They are also, like them, collected in groups, there being no less than one hundred openings within a space of flat ground a mile square.  Owing to their number and proximity, their individual energy is nothing like so violent as that of the geysers of Iceland.  Their jets seldom rise higher than 20 or 30 feet; but so great a number playing within so confined a space produces an imposing effect.  The jets of boiling water issue with a loud noise from little conical mounds, around which the ground is merely a crust of sulphur.  When this crust is penetrated, the boiling water may be seen underneath.  The rocks in the neighborhood of these fountains are all corroded by the action of the sulphurous vapors.  Nevertheless, within a distance of not more than 50 feet from them, trees grow without injury to their health.

Few of these fountains, however, are regular geysers, most of them discharging only steam.  From the Steamboat Geyser this ascends to a height of from 50 to 100 feet, with a roar like that of the escape from a steamboat boiler.  Associated with the geysers are numerous hot springs, some clear, some turbid, and variously impregnated with iron, sulphur or alum.  In Nevada the Steamboat Springs, as they are designated, exist in Washoe Valley, east of the Virginian range.  They come nearer in character to the Yellowstone geysers, their waters depositing true geyserite, or silicious concretions.  The Volcano Springs, in Lauder County, are also true geysers, though of small importance.  The ground here is so thickly perforated by holes from which steam escapes that it looks like a cullender.

THE YELLOWSTONE GEYSERS

The most remarkable geyser country in the world, alike for the size and the number of its spouting fountains, is the Yellowstone region in the northwest part of the Territory of Wyoming, in the United States, which, by a special act of Congress, has been reserved as the Yellowstone National Park, exempt from settlement, purchase or preemption.  Here nearly every form of geyser and unintermittent hot spring occurs, with deposits of various kinds, silicious, calcareous, etc.  Of the hot springs, Dr. Peale enumerates 2,195, and considers that within the limits of the park—­which is about 54 miles by 62 miles, and includes 3,312 square miles—­as many as 3,000 actually exist.  The same geologist notes the existence of 71 geysers in the area mentioned, though some of the number are only inferred to be spouting springs from the form of their basins and the character of the surrounding deposits.  Of this vast collection of still and eruptive springs, between which there seems every gradation, those which do not send water into the air are, owing to the magnificent cascades which they form, often quite as remarkable as those which take the shape of geysers.  The more striking of the latter may, however, be briefly mentioned.

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