Friday, December 9, 2011

Strange Reports From Burma As Mud Volcanoes (Supposedly) Erupt

Ramree Island, Burma

A bizarre report has surfaced on the web regarding erupting mud volcanoes in Burma. The report states that there was an earthquake in the area that apparently upset some mud volcanoes that lie on a fault that passes through the town of Kyaukphyu. I was able to identify the area they were referring to on Google Earth with coordinates  19°23'51.01"N,  93°35'30.62"E, and it does indeed to appear to be a mud volcano.

The report however has some interesting characteristics which I am doubtful of, for example the quote in the article that stated "Mud and small amounts of lava" were erupted. This area has no real history of magmatic volcanism, so I would be quite surprised if this was indeed true. Reports out of Burma, and other extremely poor nations are sometimes highly unreliable and full of anecdote. Last year there was a strange report that turned out to be false out of Africa, when an article surfaced about a Nigerian volcanic eruption in an area not known for previous volcanism.

Indeed this report was released in an attempt to get government aid to a town that felt forsaken by their government. So it's anyone's guess as to the properties of this 'eruption' in Burma, but given the satellite photos, I have no large reason to doubt that there are mud volcanoes that might be showing activity, but lava and magma "shooting 300 feet into the air" sounds a bit out of the realm of possibility given the geology of the area.

In any case, read the above article for yourself. I cannot immediately tell if this report is credible, or just sensationalist journalism, but it would be interesting if it turns out to be true. Another mud volcano in Trinidad and Tobago 'erupted' last week, spewing a minor amount of mud. This mud volcano first erupted in 1997, and was quiet ever since. Mud volcanoes are typically a mix of heated water, sometimes ash, gas, and typically have a strong sulphur smell, although they are not typically considered dangerous on a large scale. One mud volcano in Indonesia was created by man-made hydrofracturing (fracking) and has actually demolished the surrounding town, and has not stopped erupting since it started almost 10 years ago.

I will follow up on this story should any new info become available... but at this time, I am considering the source and the description of events to be quite dubious. 

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