This week Thinking Color is taking a road trip to Washoe County, Nevada to take a look at a phenomenon that is as colorful as it is unusual.
The Fly Geyser, located on Fly Ranch, is the result of human error intersecting with geothermal energy. In the mid-1960’s an energy company was drilling test wells in search of the superheated geothermal water known to exist in the area. The wells were intended to be used as a source of geothermal energy for the ranches in the area. However, the water that they found was only 200 degrees, too cold for producing energy.
The energy company resealed the test well but the pressure below broke the seal and created a man-made geyser in the middle of the desert. The fact that the temperature of the water flowing from the geyser is only 200 degrees has allowed thermophilic algae to survive and combine with minerals in the water and in the surrounding desert. This combination produces an ever expanding colorful mound of minerals and algae.