Geysers Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Watching a geyser spray a jet of water and steam into the air is a cool sight to see, but why do geysers happen? In this lesson, you'll learn what a geyser is and how it erupts.

What is a Geyser?

It started underground. Water became trapped and now it's heating up. Pressure is building as the hot water tries to find a way out, and then suddenly whoosh! Steam and hot water gush to the surface and spray into the air. You just witnessed a geyser, which is a jet of hot water and steam that escapes from a hole in the ground.

Geysers shoot hot water and steam in the air.

Where are Geysers Found?

Geysers can be found around the world, but they are not very common. You might see one if you go to Russia, Chili, New Zealand, or Iceland. In fact, 'geyser' comes from the Icelandic language word geysa, which means 'to gush.' That's a great name because geysers gush!

Your best chance of seeing a geyser is to visit Yellowstone National Park, which has more than half of the world's geysers. Yellowstone is a big park found in the Northwestern part of the United States. Now, let's explore the geography of Yellowstone to understand how and why geysers erupt.

How and Why Geysers Erupt

There are so many geysers in Yellowstone National Park because of the hot magma chamber that exists under the park.

If you dig a small hole in your backyard, the ground in the hole will feel cool to the touch. But, if you keep digging until you reach the center of the Earth, the temperature will be so hot that rocks melt. These melted rocks are called magma. The magma chamber under Yellowstone is close enough to the surface to make geysers possible.

The large magma chamber under Yellowstone

Let's go below ground in Yellowstone Park to get a closer look at how geysers work. Splash! Wow, there is a lot of water down here! A supply of water is an important ingredient in making a geyser.

Water in the ground is heated by the magma and starts to boil. If you've ever boiled a pot of water on the stove, you've seen steam rise from the pot. This underground water wants to turn into steam, but because it's trapped underground, it can't.

Did you ever get so mad that you just wanted to scream! Well, that must be how this trapped water feels. Pressure is growing fast, and it needs to let off some steam, so we better look for a way out.

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