Hot Springs, Geysers, And Renewable Energy

How we utlize the magma that lies beneath the earth’s core

Shefali O'Hara


Photo by Toby Elliott on Unsplash

Power can be generated using traditional methods such as wood, coal, gas, and oil. It can also be generated by alternative sources such as wind, solar, water, and nuclear.

What about geothermal energy, the heat that is generated from within the earth’s core? That is an area 1,800 miles (2,900 km) below the Earth’s crust.

The deeper you go beneath the crust, the higher the temperatures get. When underground rock formations approach 700–1,300° C (1,300–2,400° F), they convert to magma, or molten rock, which exists in the mantle and lower crust. When it comes to the surface of the earth, it’s called lava.

Sometimes magma also heats underground aquifers.

Sometimes this leads to geysers, as in Yellowstone Park. Magma beneath the park heats water that causes Old Faithful to erupt. It is just one of 500 geysers at the park.

Photo by Donna Elliot on Unsplash

Scientists have studied the caldera for clues on the composition of the magma reservoir, which apparently contains a variety of volatile substances. They are not only trying to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on below the surface of the earth, but also to figure out when the supervolcano that lies under the park will awaken, creating widespread devastation.

Yet magma reservoirs are also renewable sources of geothermal energy that are used in many places. A magma chamber, or magma reservoir, is the location beneath a volcano that stores molten rock.

In Iceland, they have drilled thousands of boreholes deep into the rock. These are used to extract geothermal energy. According to Hjalti Páll Ingólfsson at the Geothermal Research Cluster (GEORG) in Reykjavík, they will soon drill into a magma chamber.

Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

This is possible because the site of the drilling will be near the town of Grindavík in southern…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.