We've all heard about oil geysers, spurting up suddenly out of the ground, but nine-foot-high geysers spewing natural gas have suddenly sprung up in Oklahoma, and geologists aren't sure why.
Tony Thornton writes in The Oklahoman that, according to a local geologist, these are caused by gas leaking out of natural rock fractures, although he has never seen geysers like this before. When a gas bubble is freed from its reservoir, it rises. The gas expands as it rises, causing the geyser. It dissipates quickly once it hits the air. There's not much that can be done to control them. It's a shame when natural gas is wasted this way instead of being sold.
The main danger is that the geyser will lift large rocks into the air, which can then fall to Earth and injure people. The leaks could be caused by an earthquake, but there has been no seismic activity in the area for at least two weeks.
Oil and natural gas wells are encased in pipe or concrete. But if a section of the pipe fails, pressure can build up that can cause a geyser. A drill could have broken one of the pipes, allowing the gas to escape.
Linda Howe reports on the Oklahoma geysers on this week's Dreamland.
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
To see videos of the geysers, click here.
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