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Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Chile, Explore, South America

What exactly ARE the Tatio Geysers?

Tatio Geysers? Holes in the ground that blow up white smoke right? RIGHT. haha No it is a little more complicated than that!

The Tatio Geysers are in a field located in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile near San Pedro de Atacama at a height of 4.200 masl! There are over 80 active geysers in this area and is the highest geyser field in the Southern Hemisphere. With eight per cent of the world’s geysers, El Tatio is the third largest geyser field in the world.

The best time to see the geysers is at sunrise (between 6 and 8am) when each geyser spits a column of steam that condenses in the bitter cold morning air (Can get to temperatures of minus 15 degrees celcius). The steam plumes disappear as the air warms up.

Magma creates the steam by heating water in the underground river to 120°C. The hot subterranean water builds up pressure which is released up through cracks in the earth´´s crust. The boiling water reaches temperatures of about 85 degress celcius. The fumaroles (or steam vents) are produced due to the contrast with the cold ambient temperature and can reach heights of up to 10 metres.

El tatio geothermal field is managed by the Tatio Mallku Society, formed by Atacama´s Toconce and Caspana communities. Through this porganization, created in 2006, the members of the community themselves administer this natural and cultural heritage, taking care of the place and its touristic activity.

Note: The geysers are spraying out hot hot HOT water – do not go TOO close to the geysers OR try to hug the steam – you will burn yourself. Lesson learned.