Born of a volcanic eruption in 1886, Frying Pan Lake lives up to the heat its name implies. Water temperatures in the hot spring stay around 50 to 60 degrees Celsius (pushing 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
The New Zealand lake sits on the country’s North Island in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley, home to Lake Rotomahana, the once-active Waimangu Geyser and also Inferno Crater Lake.
A 1980 bathymetry modeling survey revealed that Frying Pan Lake spans 200 meters, making it the world’s largest hot spring. This study also looked at other lakes in the valley, finding that Inferno Crater Lake reached temperatures higher than Frying Pan Lake – around 74 degrees Celsius for short amounts of time.
Frying Pan Lake’s average depth is six meters, maxing out at 20 meters deep. It supports a range of thermophiles – lifeforms, usually bacteria, that thrive in extremely hot environments.
These lifeforms are believed to have been some of the earliest to live on Earth. Many thermophiles comprise archaea, which are not bacteria but separately classed single-celled organisms.