Too Hot In The Hot Tub!

Listen. I know hot water, mainly because I am always in it. A new study reports the hottest water ever recorded 464 degrees C (867.2 F). That so hot the water is in the vapor-phase supercritical region (say three time out loud), basically somewhere between gas and liquid. But doesn’t water boil, i.e. go into the gas phase, at 99.97 degrees C? It does at 1 atm but at 3000 meters the increased pressure allows water to stay a liquid at higher temperatures.

Of course all of this reminds me of the classic SNL skit.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

5 comments on “Too Hot In The Hot Tub!
  1. I wondered about this when I first read about it, dunno where, a few days ago. They made it sound like supercritcal water was almost unknown outside the lab. It seems like I heard that Iceland taps supercritical water for power generation, from more than a kilometer down. Maybe it was a test well or something, but I thought they were using it. Waaaay more energy in the stuff than yer plain ol boiling water. By the way, and mostly off topic, did you hear about the 800 degree soil and venting smoke in Ventura County? The LA Times article suggests the shallow oil field is responsible. I am very uninformed about such stuff, but I had never heard of an oilfield cooking off before. Even coal seams won’t burn unless they have access to air. What do you think? rb

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