Anywhere out of this World

Fly Geyser on the Fly Ranch near Gerlach in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada expels almost boiling water that nourishes heat- and sulfur-loving microorganisms. Just like at the beginning of all life on earth. The colors of the geyser indicate the different thermophilic bacteria species that thrive in different temperature environments. In the red areas, the water is up to 80°C (176°F) hot, while in the green pool it is still about 50°C (122°F) warm. The incredible colors of Fly Geyser are best appreciated in the early morning light.
Fly Geyser was created by man in search of geothermal energy in the Black Rock Desert. About 100 years ago, wells were drilled there that encountered geothermal boiling water heated by a still active magma chamber at shallow depths. In the 1960s, a geothermal company reexamined the wells, one of which was not properly sealed. The water that trickled through the seal gradually built up a calcium carbonate cone that formed Fly Geysers cone.
In 2006, when this picture was taken, the geyser was continuously spouting boiling water from seven vents, three of which were the most eye-catching. This gave Fly Geyser the nickname The Three Sisters. Since then, destructive human action has significantly changed the flow of water inside the geyser, changing its appearance and causing it to lose its distinctive fountains. The thermophilic bacteria had to adapt to this change and the result is a fuzzy looking geyser.
Fly Geyser is one of the few examples in the world that shows how human activity can accidentally lead to a natural phenomenon of incredible beauty. If the geyser were placed under protection in the future, it would quickly change its appearance again and the microbes inhabiting it could thrive again. Fly Geysir is probably the most appropriate place to imagine what happened at the very beginning of Earth, when the first microbial life forms appeared and conquered the seemingly inhabitable and hazardous volcanic environments. The common ancestor of all life and thus also our roots date back to this time more than 3.5 billion years ago. Those who turn their attention to this connection will open up to appreciation, humility, deep respect and the desire to protect such unique places.

August 2006
Canon 20D, Canon EF-S 10-22 mm, f/22, 1/4 sec, ISO 100, polarization filter, tripod
Basin and Range Gallery » Anywhere out of this World