Hot Springs 101

Soaking is a hot spring is a magical experience… and you must respect the environment and always tread lightly.

Never leave trash behind… because the path to blissful enlightenment is a clean one! Always have plenty of water on hand to drink… the hot water can dehydrate you very quickly.

The customs and practices you observe will depend on the hot spring you attend. It is common practice that bathers should wash before entering the water so as not to contaminate the water. NEVER use soap or other pollutants in the hot springs. In many countries, like Taiwan, it is required that you enter the hot spring with no clothes on, including swimwear. In some countries, if it is a public hot spring, swimwear is required. Use your discretion, and be respectful of others.

A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the earth’s crust.

The water issuing from a hot spring is heated by geothermal heat, i.e., heat from the Earth’s mantle. In general, the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. The rate of temperature increase with depth is known as the geothermal gradient. If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks. The water from hot springs in non-volcanic areas is heated in this manner.

In active volcanic zones such as Yellowstone National Park, water may be heated by coming into contact with magma (molten rock). The high temperature gradient near magma may cause water to be heated enough that it boils or becomes superheated. If the water becomes so hot that it builds steam pressure and erupts in a jet above the surface of the Earth, it is called a geyser. If the water only reaches the surface in the form of steam, it is called a fumarole. If the water is mixed with mud and clay, it is called a mud pot.

Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids, warm and especially hot springs also often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium. Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value some of these springs have, they are often popular tourist destinations, and locations for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities.
There are hot springs on all continents and in many countries around the world. Countries that are renowned for their hot springs include China, Costa Rica, Iceland, Iran, New Zealand, Peru, United States, Taiwan, and Japan.

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