Mud volcano

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Mud volcano in the Romanian Carpathians (near Berca )

Mud volcanoes , also called mud diapirs , are morphological elevations that often have the shape of a volcano and from which water-saturated mud emerges at more or less regular intervals, often together with methane .


The formation of mud volcanoes can be traced back in many cases to so-called "cold volcanism " (which is actually not volcanism in the narrower sense, but geologically called diapirism ), in which slurried clay-rich sedimentary rock due to its relatively low density and the swelling capacity of the clay minerals in the earth's crust ascends. A prerequisite for this process is usually rapid sedimentation of clay deposits in connection with pressurized water. The ascent of water-oversaturated sediment is often linked to weak zones in the earth's crust that arise in areas of tectonic compression . The same deposit conditions that favor the formation of mud volcanoes also lead to the formation of hydrocarbon deposits , so that these often occur together. The cause of the eruption of a mud volcano can be a sudden release of pressure from the water-saturated sediment due to an earthquake; in some cases, mud volcanoes also originated from drilling during the exploration or extraction of oil deposits.

In contrast to cold volcanism, molten rock rises from the earth's mantle during hot volcanism . Mud volcanoes are often confused with the mud pots that are driven by heated water in geothermally active areas.

Occurrence of mud volcanoes

So far, 1100 active mud volcanoes are known. Their diameter ranges from a few decimeters, as on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, to eight kilometers.

Mud volcanoes can be found submarine as well as on land. Submarine mud volcanoes exist off the Norwegian coast (e.g. Håkon Mosby, see below), in the Barents Sea , in the Gulf of Cádiz (e.g. Al Idrisi ), in the Black Sea or in the Caspian Sea , as well as off the coast of British Columbia and the Caribbean .

On land, for example, mud volcanoes occur in Azerbaijan , where, in combination with those of the Caspian Sea, almost half of the mud volcanoes known on earth occur. Some mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan are burning as the rising methane has ignited. There are also mud volcanoes in northern Italy and Sicily (see below), in Romania near Berca or on the island of Trinidad, before which the island of Chatham appeared four times in the last 100 years as a result of mud volcanic activity. It was always removed from the sea.

Other mud volcanoes are known in Russia , Ukraine, the People's Republic of China , Myanmar and Taiwan, or on Sumatra . In America, there are active mud volcanoes in Alaska , California , Venezuela, and Colombia . The mud volcanoes on the Colombian Caribbean coast are interesting for tourists due to the possibility of taking mud baths in them, namely the towering volcano "Totumo" between Cartagena de Indias and Barranquilla and the much flatter one at Arboletes , which is less frequented by bathing tourists .

Håkon Mosby mud volcano off the Norwegian coast

The submarine mud volcano Håkon Mosby is located at 72 ° north on the continental slope of the western Barents Sea in 1270 meters water depth. It rises about 12 meters above the sea floor and has a diameter of about 950 meters. The mud emerges at a temperature of 26 ° C, the normal sea temperature is −1.8 ° C. The mud volcano releases several hundred tons of the greenhouse gas methane every year . Much of the gas dissolved in the water does not reach the atmosphere . It is distributed in the sea water during the ascent and consumed by methane-processing bacteria . However, eruptions damage the bacteria films on the ocean floor that hold back most of the methane.

East Timor

Mud volcano in Oesilo ( East Timor )

In Oesilo (Special Administrative Region Oe-Cusse Ambeno ) there are several mud volcanoes south of the town of Saben in Suco Bobometo .

In the municipality of Viqueque , the Raitahu mud volcano is located near the sea .


The northernmost mud volcanoes in Italy are located on the northern edge of the Apennines . The mud volcanoes of Nirano south of Modena and, further west, those of Regnano are relatively well known . A whole cubic kilometer of mud is said to have leaked out near Regnano in 1835 and wreaked havoc on the site. Also famous are the fires of Pietramala , burning outcrops , which were already described by Alessandro Volta and mentioned by Michel Montaigne in his "bathing trip". However, the flames have meanwhile been extinguished due to the decrease in pressure in the reservoirs as a result of the extraction of natural gas. The same applies to the burning outcrops at Barigazzo. Currently (as of 2008) there is only one permanently burning natural gas source in the Apennines.

Since autumn 2013 there is a new one (sometimes also called Geyser ) in the Provincia di Roma near Fiumicino near the “Leonardo da Vinci” airport . This has formed on the island of a roundabout .

Other mud volcanoes are said to be active in the province of Ancona (including Il Cenerone) and near Monteleone di Fermo. The Bolle di Malvizza ( Castelfranco in Miscano in Campania ) is better known . In contrast, the specimens at San Sisto ( Montalto Uffugo ) in Calabria , which the Atlante Fisico-Economico still identifies in the 1930s, are no longer active today.

In Sicily , small mud volcanoes (Macalube) occur near Aragona north of Agrigento ( Macalube di Aragona ) and near Caltanissetta ( Macalube di Terrapelata ), where there was a major eruption in 2008. Natural gas sources burning at times are the Fuoco di Censo (without mud), the outcrops at Paternò southwest of Etna and a small one northeast of Etna at Fondachello. The area of ​​the Macalube di Aragona has been closed by a court order since September 2014 because two children were killed after an unexpected violent eruption with 20 m high mud.

Mud volcano on Java

On May 29, 2006, a mud volcano began to erupt in the east of the Indonesian island of Java in the area of ​​the city of Sidoarjo. See the main article Mud Volcano on Java .

Arabian Sea

The formation of islands has been reported three times in two places off the coast of Pakistan, most recently on September 24, 2013 on the island of Zalzala Koh in six to seven meters of shallow sea off Gwadar . This bubble-throwing islanding in the Arabian Sea is expected to level out again like the other two before.

See also

Notes and individual references

  1. Achim J. Kopf: Mud Volcano Dynamics: What Can Be Learned from In Situ and Laboratory Physical Property Measurements? American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Annual Meeting 2003: Shale Diapirs, Mud Volcanoes, and Hydrocarbon Systems ( Memento of the original from May 23, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Der Spiegel : Flood from Mud , October 12, 2006
  3. ^ Ronnie Gallagher: Mud Volcanoes - Mysterious Phenomena Fascinate Scientists and Tourists. Azerbaidjan International, Summer 2003 (11.2), pp. 44-49
  4. see also page of the MPI for Marine Microbiology on research on the Haakon Mosby mud volcano
  5. ^ Collections of the Geological Museum in Leiden, Arthur Wichmann: Rocks from Timor and some neighboring islands . Leiden, EJ Brill, 1882-1887 1, volumes 10-11, p. 165
  6. Raitahu Mud Volcano, Viqueque district, Timor-Leste , accessed July 27, 2019.
  7. The following individual mud volcanoes are mentioned in the relevant literature : Salsa di Rivalta, Salsa di Torre, Salsa di Casola-Querciola, Salsa di Regnano, Salsa di Canalina o di Moncerato o di Case Matteazzi, Salsa di Centora o di Martadone, Salsa di Montegibbio , Salsa di Nirano, Salsa di Puianello, Salsa di Ospitaletto, Salsa di Dragone, Salsa di Bergullo, Salsa di San Martino in Pedriolo, Salsa di Corporeno, Salsa di San Clemente, Salsa di Montebugnolo, Salsa di Campo di Fondo, Salsa di Casa Bubano, Salsa di Casa Campagnola, Salsa di Case Nuove di Rifiano. Note: The part of the name "Salsa" literally means "sauce", meaning the mud.
  8. 41 ° 46 ′ 32 ″ N, 12 ° 14 ′ 26 ″ E , documented on video (YouTube)
  9. There are a total of three localities there: Salinelle dei Cappuccini, Salinelle del Fiume ( fiume , meaning the Simeto , which flows into the Ionian Sea south of Catania ) and Salinelle del Vallone Salato
  10. riserva macalube near aragona caldere closed after volcanic eruption , accessed on April 15, 2015
  11. ^ "A quake creates an island -" A huge thing "" , of 25 September 2013
  12. "Earthquake caused a surprise: The day the new island appeared" ,, accessed on October 6, 2016


  • Achim Kopf: Chimneys that spew mud instead of fire . In: Spectrum of Science . January 2003. ISSN 0170-2971  
  • Flood of mud . In: Der Spiegel . No. 41 , 2006.
  • Giovanni Martinelli: Mud volcanoes, geodynamics and seismicity: (Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Mud Volcanism, Geodynamics and Seismicity, Baku, Azerbaijan, 20 - 22 May 2003) , Springer, Dordrecht 2005, ISBN 1-4020-3202-1
  • Giovanni Martinelli, Alan Judd: Mud volcanoes of Italy Geol. J. 39, 2004, pp. 49-61.
  • Carlo Ferrari, Gilmo Vianello: Le salse dell'emilia Romagna. Guida Escursionistica, Regione Emilia-Romagna , Bologna 1985

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