Water in the desert is special. And in the Basin and Range, there’s not only water, but there’s hot water as well. Hot springs are one of modern day explorers greatest finds. I believe this is because many hot springs are set up to soak and relax in while enjoying the great and wild expanses the Basin and Range region has to offer.
The Basin and Range is a hot bed of geothermal activity and hot springs can be found throughout the region. Many hot springs are way too hot to soak in.
If you visit hot springs, always use caution and keep your pets on a leash.
Hot springs, geothermal, hydrothermal:
Geothermal refers to any system that transfers heat from within the Earth to its surface. Hot rocks, without water, are geothermal. Hydrothermal is a subset of geothermal, and means that the transfer of heat involves water, either in liquid or vapor state (hence the “hydro”). Hot springs and geysers, for example, are hydrothermal features. *
Why does Nevada, the heart of the Great Basin and the Basin and Range region have so many hot springs?
The Great Basin has been stretched by Basin and Range extension. The crust, therefore, is thin and it is a shorter distance down to the hot subcrustal rocks than average. Consequently, there is a high geothermal gradient beneath the Great Basin.
Three geological components are required for the formation of a hydrothermal feature: (1) water, (2) heat, and (3) permeability through rocks so water can flow in the subsurface and rise to or near the land’s surface.
Estimated Temperature at 6 Kilometers Depth
As seen in the map above, the Basin and Range region is HOT!
We love that the Basin and Range Region of the United States has a plethora of hot water. So please, if you choose to visit hot springs, we ask that you use the resources that this amazing region offers with respect and caution. We ask that all users follow Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly principles, which mostly means clean-up after yourselves; respect other users and wildlife; and don't damage the area--keep it clean for future users and wildlife and leave it cleaner than you found it.
*~National Park Service website: Monitoring Geothermal Systems and Hydrothermal Features accessed 2/23/2018
**Fiero, Bill. 1986. Geology of the Great Basin. Reno (NV): University of Nevada Press.
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The Basin and Range Project
We love the Basin and Range region and work to promote appreciation and respect for the area. We encourage all users to learn about, play in and protect this amazing resource.
We currently focus primarily on issues in the Nevada region of the Basin and Range, but are looking to expand soon.