What is geothermal energy?« Back to Questions List

The word ‘geo’ stands for earth and thermal implies heat. We are familiar with what is below the earth’s surface. The core that is about 4000 miles deep can reach a very high temperature of 7600 degrees Fahrenheit. This immense heat in the centre of the earth, if it could be utilized, can be used for generating electricity. Thus our earth is a source of heat energy called geothermal energy. The heat inside the Earth is intense enough to melt rocks.



No wonder water at such a high temperature is very hot and that water escapes through cracks in the Earth to form pools of hot water which are called the hot springs. The rest of the heated water remains in pools under the Earth's surface, called geothermal reservoirs.


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Steam rising from the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station in Iceland.


In areas of high geothermal activity, there could be bursts of hot water and steam called geysers. The source of heat for the water in geysers is magma that lies around 3 miles under the surface of the earth. Many geyser fields are located on the edges of the earth's tectonic plates which compose the earth's lithosphere. These plates are constantly in motion generating lot of energy. The jolts can cause earthquakes and volcanoes, and it can also create heat sources for geysers.


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