The image above shows the star attraction, the “Champagne Pool”. It’s easy to see why this features on many postcards of this place. It’s much harder to explain the atmosphere in that place. Early in the morning the steam rising from the pool gives a shifting, elusive view of the pool:
(You will find a high-resolution image of the Champagne Pool in my galleries, here.)
The whole time I was there we were surrounded by a very special sound: the millions of small bubbles of dissolved CO2 hissing away, exactly like a glass of the wine that gives the pool its name. They are everywhere, and tiny:
The pool is surrounded by gleaming white silica deposits, but just under the surface of the water are brightly coloured mineral deposits (sulphides of arsenic and antimony). Small crystalline mounds appear above the water:
Even though the water is very hot (75 C) and acid (pH 5.5), there are microorganisms known as ‘extremophiles’ living in it. Studies have isolated several novel bacteria, as well as an unusual ‘archeon’. You can read a little the chemistry and biology of this pool on Wikipedia, here.
A different mixture of minerals have given a nearby pool a completely different colour. It’s called the “Devil’s Bath” (and the colour is real!):
Finally, nearby there is the “Lady Knox” geyser which obligingly blows at 10:15 each day (when seeded by some surfactant powder), reaching a height of up to 20 metres:
(Note – the ‘green flash’ in that picture is not caused by the geyser, the soap powder or even a sunset but is a reflection from shooting with a wideangle lens directly into the sun.)
I really enjoyed the visit and would go back there like a shot. A great place!