2019.12.06 - Thermal waters and heat sources around the world

Thermal waters and heat sources around the world

Fortunately, it is almost commonplace, that Hungary is pretty rich in thermal waters. We have a significant amount of thermal water supplies, this is not a question. However, do we know where we can find healing waters around the globe?

Thermal waters typically break to the surface where tectonic plates meet. On these geographical locations, volcanism is pretty common: earthquakes, geysers, heat sources often appear there, and sometimes active or resting volcanos can be found. From the water collecting layers in the earth's crust, water leaks into warmer layers close to hot lava, then boil and find its way to the surface or just stays until us humans drill a deep well so it can break to the surface due to the vast pressure down there.

The most area like this is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. This zone runs along New Zealand, Japan, Kamchatka, Alaska, and then down to the west coast of America, following the line of Rocky Mountains and the Andes. The Earth's crust is not only divided into the enormous oceanic and terrestrial plates, but there are smaller ones too. Where these meet, active volcanos or remains can be found. There are some of these fracture lines under Hungary, thus it is no accident that here are some heat sources too. However, thermal wells of the Great Plain do not obtain thermal water from the lines but there is a thin mantle thus water can warm up more easily in the soil close to the surface. 

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In Europe, there are only two countries which have approximately the same level of thermal water supply: Iceland and Italy. Both countries have active volcanoes and there are several heat sources around those areas. The Saturnia heat source is located in Tuscany, Italy. 800 liters of hot water comes to the surface from among the rocks every minute, creating aesthetic pools and waterfalls. Water has a good effect on our circulation, our respiratory system, and our skin. You can enjoy the healing water in its natural beauty, but naturally, some fancy thermal hotels and beaches were built in the area. Iceland is the most volcanic area in Europe. There are innumerable heat sources, some of which are heavily built, but some of them are completely abandoned. All true tourists love these, as they sometimes can only be reached by a long hiking trip. One area like this is the Reykjadalur Valley. Reykjavik, the capital, is 45 minutes away by car, after that a circa 30 minutes long hike awaits. The valley is usually covered with steam from the countless heat sources and after or during a hike it is very pleasing to dip in the warm water. 

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Turkey

Turkey was always famous for its baths. Pamukkale is located in the southwestern part of Turkey. The place became popular because of its heat source, more precisely the white limestone pools, which were created by the water. The name of the place means cotton castle, referring to the snow-white stone balconies. The 35 degrees Celsius warm healing water is rich in calcium-hydrogen carbonate and carbon-dioxide, this is why while it flows down the hillside the condensing lime creates natural pools. Here in Hungary in Egerszalók, similar, but smaller creations came to life. Pamukkale became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

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Hot water on the beach

If we travel as far away from Europe as possible (to New Zealand) we can find ourselves in the real home of thermal waters. This island is the home of volcanoes and geysers, and the relationship with volcanoes and thermal waters plays an important role in Maori natives’ culture. Wai-o-Tapu is one of the most spectacular geothermal reserves in the world, and its name means "Holy Water". Naturally, it is not possible to bathe in all of the ponds here, as some of them are too hot. However, there is a place in New Zealand that surpasses the imagination of the ones who seek wild thermal waters. In the northernmost part of the archipelago, located near Auckland on the coast is Hot Water Beach. The heat sources reach the surface directly from the sand of the beach. 

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Japan

Japan is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire just like New Zealand, this is why there are many heat sources as well here and there. Their number even surpasses ten thousand. The Japanese respect nature to a great extent, this is why they built around these heat sources paying attention to the balance of nature and the trace of the human hand. This is the reason for the fact that these sources are often unnoticeable for the naked eye. The truly lucky ones have their own in their gardens. 

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Transylvania

Returning to Europe, South Transylvania and the Bath of Hercules is worth mentioning. It is a well-liked bathing place since the Roman-era. On the banks of river Cerna, based on the sources under the steep limestone cliffs one of the most famous resorts of the Monarchy was built. This place was often visited by Sissy. For thousands of years, hot water has been pouring into public outdoor pools on the banks of Cerna. It is a great experience to walk down in the shimmering dark under the starry sky to these warm pools no matter if its summer or winter.

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