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Earth Alert
 
Spanish Waterspout Gushes Nonstop

Sept. 6, 2000 A huge column of red water has been spewing from Spanish soil for almost six weeks, baffling geologists who have no explanation for the phenomenon.

The 100-foot-high gusher of reddish water, mixed with soil and carbon dioxide, is being shot from the parched soil of La Mancha in central Spain at the rate of 13 gallons per second.

The water burst forth on July 25, as olive growers in the city of Granatula de Calatrava were deepening an existing well. They initially tried unsuccessfully to stop the flow of water by piling rocks over the opening.

Geologists studying the site say that it is definitely not a geyser, because it is not an intermittent event and the water is cool. Enrique Calleja, director of hydrology for the Castilla-La Mancha regional government, also emphasized that the region has not seen a volcano in hundreds of thousands of years. He explained that the spout is probably caused by an aquifer, a water-bearing layer of rock or sand. Aquifers typically are of great volume and under tremendous pressure.

The water, which is emanating from a hole 460 feet deep, has shown no sign of diminishing. Calleja said, "I've never heard of anything of this intensity in Spain, Europe or anywhere else for that matter."

Geologists cautioned the masses of people flocking to the site to keep a safe distance, as the highly concentrated amounts of carbon dioxide could be toxic. They also warned of the possibility of rocks being shot forth in the spout.

 


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