Monday, February 7, 2011

Muddy encounters

Nothing compares with action geology, when you are out in the field and can observe geological processes occurring on a timescale that compares with the lifetime of your favourite sandwich. For me, working with mud volcanoes has been enlightening in that respect, despite the muddy nature of the subject. 

The pictures of this week are from Azerbaijan – the country where most of the spectacular onshore mud volcanoes are located. Many of them have frequent eruptions (every 10-15 years or so) and are characterized by dormant periods in between which in fact are far from dormant or boring. Constant seepage of gases, mud, and water take place in the volcano centres, producing landscapes and morphologies on the surreal side of the spectrum. I have been to these volcanoes two times and wonder when I will be back...

The Bahar mud volcano field. One of the biggest mud cones is constantly active and is composed and build from countless small flows.

 A field of gryphons, characterized by their relatively small size (up to 2-3 meters tall) and clustered occurrence.

 Bursting of a bubble in a gryphon.

 The Caspian Sea as seen from the shore along the Bahar mud volcano. The poles are part of the infrastructure that used to belong to offshore oil platforms. Oil fields are commonly associated with the mud volcanoes.

For more information about these volcanoes, check out this paper.

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