The Valley of Desolation

If you are able to withstand a demanding six hour round-trip hike along trails winding over very rugged terrain the reward is the view of a large hydrothermal field and Boiling Lake in the Valley of Desolation. The valley is barren of forest and has a strong sulfur odor and contains acres of fissured rocks hissing steam. Many fractures were seen to contain small pools of vigorously boiling water. The rocks are a red-brown oxide-colour having been vigorously altered. The highlight of the valley is Boiling Lake, a 50 m wide circular depression filled with grey, presumably clay-rich, boiling water. Every few seconds we were able to catch a glimpse through the vapour, of the turbulent flow across the surface of the lake. This is caused by the thermal convection and consists of concentric nests of waves up to about 0.5 m high. Having viewed the geothermal area we were able to better appreciate the heat energy associated with volcanoes, and the scale of both mineralizing hydrothermal systems and geothermal energy systems.