Geothermal plant communities

Geothermal vegetation at Waimangu. Photo: Chris Bycroft.

Geothermal energy is derived from the Earth's internal heat. Where it comes to the Earth's surface it forms a range of geothermal features such as hot springs, lakes, fumaroles, geysers, heated soils, and hot streams. 

In New Zealand, geothermal vegetation has been identified as an ecosystem of historically limited extent, and naturally rare, even in pre-human landscapes (MfE and DOC 2007). The best definition for geothermal vegetation is that of Merrett and Clarkson (1999): "Geothermally influenced terrestrial and emergent wetland vegetation are plant communities that have compositional, structural, and/or growth rate characteristics determined by current and former inputs of geothermally-derived energy (heat) or materials (solid, fluid or gas)."

More information on geothermal processes in New Zealand can be found at the website of the NZ Geothermal Association

Geothermal vegetation at Mangakakaramea (Rainbow Mountain). Photo: Chris Bycroft.

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This page last updated on 8 Nov 2012