Fumaroles: what they are

Fumaroles, a phenomenon linked to the presence of volcanoes or hydrothermal areas that perhaps, millennia ago, saw the presence of a volcano that is no longer active. We must not confuse fumaroles with geysers, even if there are analogies, they are certainly both spectacles that nature offers us by showing us its power not necessarily in a destructive way.

Fumaroles: what they are

These are secondary volcanism phenomena that consist in the release of steam and other volcanic gases. Usually the fumaroles appear in the vicinity of craters or flanks of active volcanoes but it can happen, even in Italy there are examples, which appear in hydrothermal areas once occupied by volcanoes that are no longer active.

Fumaroles in Italy

The most famous Italian fumarole is in Campania, it is the Solfatara of Pozzuoli, near the volcanic region, but there are other areas to see them such as some hills on the island of Vulcano. The name "fumarola", Italian term and certainly not international, is of Neapolitan origin, refers to "funnel".

We immediately realize that we are facing one of these characteristics "Volcanic smokes" because they come out from small but deep cracks in the ground from which gases emitted at temperatures can range from 100 up to 900 ° C.

It really depends on the type of volcanic-hydrothermal activity which exists in the area of ​​interest. The fact is that when these hot gases come into contact with the air, they condense and form these "fumes".

Fumarole Tuscany

Another perfect site to see fumaroles in Italy is the "Fumarole Park in Sasso Pisano", a park dedicated to this phenomenon that originates right here because we are close to a source of thermal hot water. This means that there are streams of water that flow in various directions, many of them are not even exploited, others yes as in Bagnone case, one of the largest sacred thermal complexes in the world.

Another way to use this situation is to see it as geothermal energy to be exploited, as is done with the famous shower heads of Lardarello, the water in these areas, depending on the case, comes out at temperatures ranging from 65 ° to 30 ° C. It has been used since the times of the Etruscans and Romans who had created large pools for thermal treatments.

Fumaroles: volcano

We can also distinguish different types of fumaroles depending on the temperature of the gases emitted and the chemical composition, we find the dry fumarole, the acid one, the alkaline one and the cold one.

In general, if the chemical composition of volcanic gases is observed, elements are always present and predominantly. Apart from the water vapor, the one present in the largest percentage by volume, we find carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid.

In smaller quantities we can perceive the presence of heavy metals and other toxic elements such as lead, cadmium, palladium, mercury, thallium and arsenic, together with some organic compounds. Another consequence of the various types of composition of the volcanic gases emitted is the color of the surrounding soil which can also become citrine yellow color due to sulfur.

Fumaroles and geysers

For to distinguish once and for all the fumaroles from the geysers it is good to define the latter. They are fountains of water, not steam, and from them the water is emitted intermittently, in powerful jets. Also geyser they are linked to the presence of ancient volcanic conduits with a still hot magma mass at the base.

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Video: Yellowstone National Park - Fumaroles in Porcelain Basin 2018 (November 2021).