The Homestead Caldera ranks as perhaps one of the most interesting geological features most of us have never heard of. Yet local residents know it as simply The Crater. Both names deceive, however, since this marvel remains neither a caldera nor a crater.
This magnificent location sits near Midway, Utah, in the United States. The Homestead Caldera actually represents a geothermal spring contained inside of a naturally formed dome.
The lovely feature also sits on privately owned land. Not surprisingly, the owners subsequently turned the area into a tourist attraction.
This virtually unknown, and quite literally hidden site, forms the only warm water destination for scuba diving found within the continental United States.
Homestead Caldera Geology
Geological evidence indicates that Homestead Caldera formed nearly 10,000 years ago. It is only one of many in the region. The impressive dome itself measures approximately 55 ft (16.7 m) in height. It also spans roughly 400 ft (122 m) in its diameter.
The structure, mainly composed of limestone, formed over time by minerals deposited from the geothermal spring. As a result of internal pressure, the dome pushed outward. Imagine the pressures required.
A relatively small hole in the top of the dome allows sunlight to filter in naturally. Additionally, for tourist purposes, a tunnel was drilled into the side of the dome to allow better access.
The geothermal activity also maintains a steady water temperature of between 90-96 F (32-36 C).
Homestead Caldera History and Nature
An ongoing archaeological project works to retrieve objects left behind over time by thoughtless humans from the silt. These include coins and antique firearms. Those (and numerous other objects) are retrieved from the silt deposits that line the bottom of the hot spring.
The water has a typical depth of nearly 65 ft (19.8 m), while the silt itself measures roughly 14 ft (4.3 m) deep in places. This makes locating, not to mention retrieving, the various paraphernalia difficult.
Fortunately, however, the owners have committed to every effort to return the site to its natural pristine condition, as well as exploring the history surrounding the site.