Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Geothermal Reservoirs

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Formation of Geysers
Geysers are caused when underground chambers of water are heated to the boiling point by volcanic rock. When heat causes the water to boil, pressure forces a superheated column of steam and water to the surface. Because most geothermal reservoirs are capped by overlying rock, the heated water cannot escape, remaining underground instead. If a geothermal reservoir is sufficiently close to the surface, the heated water can be piped to the surface and used to produce energy.

In certain areas, water seeping down through cracks and fissures in the crust comes in contact with this hot rock and is heated to high temperatures. Some of this heated water circulates back to the surface and appears as hot springs and geysers. However, the rising hot water may remain underground in areas of permeable hot rock, forming geothermal reservoirs. Geothermal reservoirs, which may reach temperatures of more than 350° C (700° F), can provide a powerful source of energy.