‘The ocean is on fire again’: Explosion lights up the Caspian Sea


On July 4, an explosion rocked the Caspian Sea, off the shoreline of Azerbaijan.

Gavriil Grigorov/TASS by Getty

An explosive jet of fire, believed to be precipitated by a dust volcano, lit up the Caspian Sea on Sunday in step with a chronicle by the APA, an Azerbaijani press agency. The fire came about about 6 miles from the Umid gas area, south of Baku, the Azerbaijani capital. 

The Dispute Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) knowledgeable the APA none of its oil platforms were tormented by the incident. No accidents had been reported.

“There had been no accidents on offshore platforms and industrial products and companies below the notify withhold a watch on of SOCAR, and work is continuing veritably,” acknowledged Ibrahim Ahmadov, deputy head of SOCAR’s public family and occasions department, talking to the APA

From the lab to your inbox. Internet the most up-to-date science stories from CNET a week.

It’s the 2nd time in two days a fiery water incident has been detailed. On July 2 an underwater pipeline leaking gas into the Gulf of Mexico dwelling the skin of the ocean ablaze sending social media spiralling with proclamations that the “ocean is on fire.” On Sunday, “the ocean is on fire again” echoed all by device of the Twittersphere. (The Caspian Sea is an inland sea so… k, let’s no longer fetch into it.)

This explosion appears to be like to be natural. Talking to the APA, Azerbaijani seismologist Gurban Yetirmishli suggests the fireplace is indicative of a dust volcano. This would no longer be a surprise: The location is dwelling to a entire bunch of mud volcanoes. 

“Azerbaijan has infrequently the most intelligent geological instances for mud volcanoes,” acknowledged Tag Tingay, a geophysicist from the University of Adelaide in Australia, who has meticulously recorded the areas of mud volcanoes world huge. 

Treasure their extra acquainted, lava-filled cousins, generally mud volcanoes erupt. But what are they and how can they lift fire?

What is a dust volcano?

A mud volcano is precisely because the title suggests: a volcano that erupts with muddy fluids, moderately than lava. Which device they’re no longer exactly trusty volcanoes (nonetheless let’s no longer fetch into that debate).

They’re precipitated by water being heated deep within the Earth and mixing with rocks and minerals to create a slurry that is then forced as a lot as the skin by fissures or cracks. Tingay explains in a comprehensive Twitter thread from 2019 they’ll range from being “miniature cute points” measuring appropriate just a few centimeters across to “big things which might perchance presumably be several hundred meters high and kilometres huge.” 

If they happen to be shut to one thing be pleased an oil area, they might perchance presumably be “plumbed” into oil and natural gas methods. After they erupt, the oil and gas — flammable substances — spew into the sky with the mud. It’s unclear exactly how they can also ignite, nonetheless the stress trade or sparks in the mud precipitated by rocks smashing into every other for the length of an eruption might perchance masks the fireballs, Tingay notes.  

Tingay analyzed the Caspian Sea explosion and speculated, primarily based totally on just some of the images, that it’s going to be a dust volcano identified as Makarov Monetary institution. That would had been intelligent — in 1958, this mud volcano exploded, launching a fireball 500 meters into the sky. 

But primarily based totally on extra evaluation, Tingay furthermore specualted about two other doable candidates that are shut to the Umid oil area. Both lined up with video pictures and thermal anomalies detected by the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: The Ignatiy Stone Monetary institution mud volcano (veritably identified as Dashly Island) and the Kumany Monetary institution mud volcano. 

By Monday morning, confirmation came in the function of a flyover:

UPDATE: Confirmation!!!

Morning pictures of mud eruption on Dashly Island, veritably identified as Ignatiy Stone Monetary institution, mud volcano. https://t.co/J4CZ4ZubdQ

— Tag Tingay (@CriticalStress_) July 5, 2021

A ship has been sent to the scene to compare and Ahmadov, from SOCAR, says “the public will likely be knowledgeable as rapidly as there is extra files.”

Update July 5: Adds confirmation about mud volcano at Dashly Island