In 2010, the United States Mint introduced a new coin, designed to commemorate the springs in Arkansas. This hot springs quarter was the first in a set of 56 coins specially designed to celebrate and educate about the vast number of natural marvels throughout the United States and territories. There’s some debate as to what actually even constitutes such a spring. One can find definitions as diverse as “any natural discharge of groundwater with higher than normal temperatures” to “a spring with water temperatures above 50 degrees Celcius.” Whatever the exact definition you subscribe to, however, two facts stand out: the springs are created when water is heated by geothermal energy, and a hot springs quarter could put a little bit of knowledge about them in your pocket.
The particular body of water this hot springs quarter is celebrating is in Arkansas, where about a million gallons of 137 degree water flows every day. This flow is unimpeded by changes in precipitation, as studies by the National Park Service indicate that water doesn’t reach the surface for some 6,000 years. The rainwater whence the spring flows filters very slowly through the earth’s surface and to superheated areas deep in its crust; it isn’t until it reaches this area that it gushes forth to the surface. While the surrounding city bills itself as “the countries first resort”, relatively few people are familiar with the majesty of the city’s 47 natural hot springs. This quarter should serve to expose many more people to the grandeur that is lurking in our own backyard.