July 7, 2009—When a new geyser erupted recently in Russia, a startled observer shouted what would become the geyser's official name: "Prikolny," or "Peculiar."
The steamy fount is the first new geyser to appear on the country's remote Kamchatka Peninsula since the 1960s. (See a regional map.)
Usually occurring in volcanic regions, geysers are hot springs that intermittently eject forceful jets of water and steam.
But there's more to Peculiar's strangeness than its sudden appearance: The geyser is also eco-friendly. (Watch a video of the geyser erupting.)
The liquid from its 16.4-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) fountain is recycled when it falls back into the earth—the same water gets spit back out again every 6 to 20 minutes (above, the geyser erupts in an undated photo).
No one knows what caused the geyser's formation, but theories include rising water levels in the area or a pulsating hot spring that switched roles.
Peculiar sits in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve about 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) from the Valley of Geysers. Eurasia's only geyser field, the valley once had a hundred of the features—until a landslide wiped out half of them in June 2007.
Two years after that devastating loss, "this year a new miracle has appeared in another part of the reserve," WWF's Alexandra Filatkina said in a statement.
"We have the rare opportunity to witness these natural processes as they become history."