Geysers and volcanoes accompany very high-temperature eruptions from beneath the Earth.
But, while geysers accompany only hot water and steam and are not very harmful, hot molten magma (lava) overflowing from mountain tops causes havoc for nature and its components.
They both emerge deep down from the Earth’s surface, but their mechanisms differ.
- Geysers are hot springs that periodically erupt, expelling water and steam, while volcanoes release molten rock, ash, and gases through openings in the Earth’s crust.
- Geysers form near volcanic areas where hot rocks heat groundwater, whereas volcanoes form at tectonic plate boundaries or hotspots.
- Volcanic eruptions can be highly destructive, while geyser eruptions are generally less hazardous and may even attract tourists.
Geysers vs Volcanoes
Geysers are hot springs that erupt when underground water is heated by magma or hot rocks, creating a pressurized system. Volcanoes form when magma from the Earth’s mantle rises to the surface and releases debris, creating new land, shaping landscapes, and influencing climate patterns.
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Geysers are a rare type of hot spring, and there are a total of 1,000 geysers approximately across the globe. The size and frequency of geysers can vary,, but they all erupt boiling water and steam turbulently.
The top five countries with active geysers are the US, Chile, Iceland, Russia, and New Zealand.
A volcano is an eruption of molten magma (lava) accompanied by hot gases and rock pieces. A series of earthquakes often accompany volcanoes.
The molten lava from the Earth’s surface flows continuously or erupts like a fountain into the air. Volcanoes cause heavy damage in densely populated areas, and the ash accompanying them causes severe breathing problems.
|Parameters of Comparison||Geysers||Volcanoes|
|Definition||A geyser is a hot spring that periodically ejects hot water accompanied by steam on the Earth’s surface with a turbulent force.||Volcanoes are the eruption of liquid rock (magma) from deep down the Earth’s crust.|
|Contents||Geysers mainly erupt jets of water and steam into the air.||Steam explosion is the leading cause of geysers as the superheated groundwater suddenly blasts and vents out from the surface.|
|Cause||The leading cause behind volcanic eruption is the movement of tectonic plates which leads to pressure change and forces the magma to overflow.||Atmospheric environment may change due to a large amount of heat energy released, but they are mostly used as tourist attractions.|
|Effects||It makes the weather very dangerous, and fast-moving lava can kill and damage settlements (humans and animals).||The Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico are very hazardous countries in terms of volcanic eruptions.|
|Dependency||Volcanic eruptions are likely to be found around geysers.||Geysers are not a mandatory process for volcanoes to erupt.|
|Geography||Yellowstone National Park (USA) is prone to geysers.||Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico are very hazardous countries in terms of volcanic eruptions.|
What are Geysers?
A geyser, in simple words, is a vent on the surface of Earth from which hot water and steam are ejected at a very high force. The force is big enough to raise the water stream to a few hundred feet in the air,, so they are a big tourist attraction.
The most famous geyser in the world is Old Faithful, situated in the USA. In this geyser, the water rises from 100 to 200 feet in the air.
For the formation of a geyser, four conditions are required to be met. They are the presence of hot rocks beneath the surface, abundant groundwater, a subsurface reservoir of water, and the formation of fissures through which the stream of water erupts.
Since the source of hot rock is mandatory, geysers are often found in the sites of volcanic activity.
The eruption time between two hot streams varies for different locations. But, scientists think that the delay in the eruption time may be caused due to declining underwater sources in those areas. This is an indication of drought.
The tallest geyser in the world was witnessed in New Zealand (Waimangu geyser), but unfortunately, due to the alternation of hydrology (caused by a landslide), it had stooped erupting.
What are Volcanoes?
Volcanoes are best defined as vents from where lava (molten magma), rock fragments, and various gaseous compounds erupt to the surface of the Earth. The slow accumulation of erupted lava leads to the formation of volcanic terrains.
Due to a series of cracks and earthquakes, the chambers containing molten magma get linked and erupt continuously (over and over again) in a single site.
The molten rocks that mainly erupt as the lava contains chemical like iron, magnesium, silicon, calcium, etc. After cooling down, these minerals turn into crystalline form and once it becomes excellent to turn into ingenious or magmatic rocks.
A volcano originates ten miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and since the magma is lighter than the surrounding rocks, it is brought to the surface by buoyancy.
“There are approximately 1,300 potentially active volcanoes across the globe apart from the continuous volcanoes on the ocean floor. Most of these volcanoes are located around the Pacific Rim,, which is why it is known as the”Ring of Fire”. “There are approximately 1,300 potentially active volcanoes across the globe apart from the continuous volcanoes on the ocean floor. Most of these volcanoes are located around the Pacific Rim,, which is why it is known as the “Ring of Fire”.
The volcanoes are categorized into three main categories. They are active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes.
Depending on the mechanisms, content, shapes, and structure, there are mainly four types of volcanoes: cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes, and lava domes.
Main Differences Between Geysers and Volcanoes
- A geyser is a type of hot spring that periodically ejects hot water accompanied by steam, whereas a volcano is an eruption of liquid rock (magma) from deep down the Earth’s crust to the mountain tops.
- Geysers mainly erupt jets of water and steam into the air whereas a volcanic eruption contains hot magma (lava), rock pieces, ash, gaseous sulfur compounds, cinders, etc.
- Steam explosion is the main cause of geysers as the superheated groundwater suddenly blasts and vents out. On the other hand, the main cause behind volcanic eruption is the movement of tectonic plates.
- The atmospheric environment may change due to the large amount of heat energy released from a geyser. In contrast, a volcano makes the weather very dangerous and fast-moving lava can kill and damage settlements (humans and animals).
- Geysers are accompanied by volcanic eruptions but not vice-versa.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.