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Fly Geyser spouting at night under the stars and the Milky Way in the Nevada Black Rock Desert

Nighttime Fly Geyser spouting water under the stars and the Milky Way in the Nevada Black Rock Desert

Moments of Eternity

One of the most alien-looking places on earth is Fly Geyser in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. It is an incredible experience to admire the rising Milky Way above the boiling water spouting geyser at new moon. Standing in 50°C hot water and at the same time experiencing the chilly air of the night together with the impressive sounds of the geyser is simply exhilarating.
This seemingly extraterrestrial landscape could easily be imagined on Jupiter's volcanic moon Io. It could also be a volcanic geyser eruption that took place billions of years ago on early Earth. Such landscapes are rare on Earth today, but they do exist. Perhaps they help us to imagine what the Earth might have looked like in the beginning.
The Milky Way with the red Triffid and Lagoon Nebulae in the constellation Sagittarius radiates at a distance of about 5000 light years. The constellation Sagittarius is located in the center of our galaxy and shows dense star populations as well as dense interstellar dust clouds blocking starlight.
Heat and sulphur resistant bacteria feed on the boiling water of the geyser, just like they did in the beginning of life on Earth. In contrast to the grey geyser cones of Yellowstone, Fly Geyser is the only geyser in the world that is continuously spouting boiling water out of seven openings. This allows thermophile bacteria to feed on nutrients in the hot water. The red area is home to bacteria that live in the 80°C (176°F) hot water while different species feed on the green area at water temperatures up to 50°C (122°F).
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible today to experience this scenery or to repeat the image with today's more advanced camera technology. This is because the geyser has been vandalized in the meantime. As a result, it completely changed its appearance. It lost its bizarre fountains, shape and clear color separation. This is another example why it is so crucial to rigorously protect such rare and phenomenal places.

August 2006
Canon 20D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm, F/3.5, 45 seconds using 10 seconds foreground flash-fire, ISO 3200, tripod

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