Hot Springs!
The mountainous regions of Colorado include many areas of high relief that can give rise to the kind of deep circulation that produces hot springs.

One such area is Manitou Springs. Here Pikes Pike rises to over 14,000 feet (4000 meters) in elevation, some 8000 feet above the adjacent Fountain Creek valley.


Illustration courtesty of Dr. Fred Luiszer

  Water in the form of rain and melting snow enters fractures in the Pikes Peak Granite and is warmed by the geothermal gradient. The warm water then rises along the Ute Pass Fault. Part way along the journey it encounters the soluble carbonate rocks of the Manitou, Williams Canyon, and Leadville formations, following these upwards.

In earlier geologic times the water surfaces as springs within Fountain Creek. Today it resurges through springs and wells in the Fountain Formation in the town of Manitou Springs.

A fascinating aspect of this hydrologic journey is the formation of caves in the "mixing zone" shown in the diagram. Please see the section on "caves" for more on their story

Copyright (c) 2000-04 by R. Mark Maslyn
Last Updated Sept. 19, 2004