FUN TRIVIA FACT: which country has the most mud volcanos?
Azerbaijan contains at least 400 mud volcanos, which is roughly half of the number that have been identified in the world to date.
What are mud volcanos?
Just to be clear, they aren’t real volcanos. They do look like volcanos though, baby volcanos that pump out mud instead of lava.
I guess the name has stuck.
Mud volcanos form in subduction zones – collision sites between tectonic plates – where gas is continually making its way to the surface, bringing with it a mix of oil and mud.
Mud volcanos tend to occur where there are subterranean reserves of gas and oil, which Azerbaijan has no shortage of – on the way to Gobustan you will see crude oil oozing out of the ground.
The gas being emitted is predominantly methane, which means these little baby volcanos are highly flammable; smoking while standing next to an active mud volcano is not recommended. 😀
The mud volcanos of Gobustan, Azerbaijan
In Gobustan, an hour outside of Baku, there are a number of easily accessed mud volcanos.
They’re found on a bleak, treeless stretch of Caspian Sea coastline; the surrounding landscape resembling a post-apocalyptic, post-nuclear-fallout Earth.
Move towards the bleakest, most-scorched section of land in sight and there are the baby volcanos.
Glopping, belching, spluttering, splatting, splopping; oily mud occasionally overflowing the crater brim, spilling down the side of the volcano like spittle running down a baby’s chin.
You’re free to wander around and enjoy the mud volcanos as you like.
Some of the mud is very fresh and soft though – as Ami discovered – so watch out. 😀
Practical information and how to reach the mud volcanos:
Gobustan is located approximately 65km south of Baku. There are no public transport options to the volcanos, so either hire a private car or taxi for the day, or join a tour. There was no road signage at the time of my visit (2017), so if you are making your own way to the volcanos make sure you have rock-solid directions. More transport info here.