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A hot topic in China's hot-spring county

A well has become a hot topic in asmall north China town after it began gushing water at a scolding 104 degrees Celcius -- despite the outdoor temperature being 17 degrees below freezing.

Water temperatures of hot-spring wells in Yanggao County, about 52 kilometers to the west of China's coal city Datong in northern Shanxi Province, normally range from 25 to 45 degrees Celcius.

This well was dug as part of a program by the county government to tap local geothermal resources for the development of spa services and tourism.

Lu Shiming, a water conservancy expert with the county's Water Resources Bureau who monitored the digging completed on Sunday, said that the water's extreme heat had broken two mercury thermometers.

"We had to use an infrared thermometer to measure the water running past the mouth of the well," he said.

The well has attracted the attention of many people in Pingshan Village in Luowenzao Township.

Farmer Wang Yuan who thought hot springs were nothing special in his hometown was so curious that he even brought over a basket of eggs and put them into the water.

About seven minutes later, he took out the basket and pealed off the egg shell. "They were all thoroughly cooked," he said.

Lu Shiming said that the local water resources department had sampled the water for metallic element tests. But they had yet to determine what component caused the water's pungent smell.

Previous records showed that local hot springs contained heavy amounts of calcium carbonate and 28 trace mineral supplements. Thetown's hot springs come from the extinct Datong volcanic cluster which covers a geothermal field of 2.3 square kilometers.

The well, about 178 meter deep, yields water at a rate of 40 tonnes per hour.