El Tatio forms an extensive, highly active geyser field. This marvel of geology sits at a high elevation, within the snow-capped Andes Mountains.
Located in the northern section of Chile, in South America, El Tatio sits at an altitude of roughly 14, 173 ft (4,320 m). In terms of location, this makes it one of the highest situated such fields known to man.
The name itself means grandfather, and the location also ranks as rather remote. The nearest sizable population center remains about 55 mi (89 km) away.
Visiting the site can also be dangerous, however, due to conditions. On occasion, the fragile crust surrounding the geysers gives way beneath the weight of an individual.
El Tatio Landscape and Geyser Activity
El Tatio is also surrounded on all sides by the enormous mountains of the Andes. The geyser field boasts more than 80 active geysers. By number, this makes it the largest such field in the Southern Hemisphere. However, two larger fields exist in the Northern Hemisphere.
The majority of the individual geysers measure relatively small, in terms of elevation of the eruption. The average height of the geysers in El Tatio is about 29.5 in (0.75 m ). The most powerful individual geyser averages only 19.7 ft(6 m) in height.
El Tatio Geothermal Activity
Geysers do not comprise the only geothermal activity that El Tatio remains known for. More than 100 steam fumaroles also exist within the area. The majority of these stay continuously active.
The contrast between the steam and the frigid air at the field’s altitude makes for a striking image. Visitors also find several large geothermal pools in the area.
The water within these contains a variety of minerals. These pools remain an almost constant 95F (35C) in temperature. Countless bubbling mud pots also fill the region. Both the mineral pools and the mud pots appear to be popular tourist attractions.