What makes the hot springs hot?

Bath CountyThere are hundreds of hot springs around the world, from the famous – those that create the famous geysers at Yellowstone National Park – to the largest – the 160-acre Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand.

Bath County, where Fort Lewis Lodge is located, has its very own hot springs along U.S. 220 – called Warm, Hot and Healing Springs. The springs that originate in the Allegheny Mountains flow at 1.7 million gallons per day, with temperatures up to 105 degrees.

But what makes them that way? In the simplest terms, a hot spring is created from water heated naturally in the earth.

Hot springs are linked to the geographic area – the springs in western Virginia’s Warm Springs Valley originate in the Alleghenies, which are part of the craggy Appalachian mountain range.

While some hot springs in the world are linked to volcanic activity, here, they’re caused by rain and surface water that falls into fractures in the ground and is heated deep in the earth – 2 to 3 kilometers below. Springs form when the heated water rises quickly back up through a fracture in the rock or a fault line.

Heated water can hold more dissolved solids, so water in the hot springs is full of natural minerals such as bicarbonate, sulphate, iron, sodium and chloride. The minerals help create the effervescent, odorless, relaxing water that the springs in Bath County are famous for.

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