Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mud Volcanoes of Pakistan



Chandergup Mud Volcano

A couple of days back I wrote a post on the Pakistani Sphinx, a Sphinx of Giza, Egypt like feature, but naturally carved and shaped by high speed winds along the Makran Coastal Highway in Balochistan province of Pakistan. A friend of mine who had been wandering in the area for making roads and other infrastructure immediately called and wondered if I knew more about the area. Well I had my answer in negative as I had not been to the area.

A photo slide of mud volcanoes

He then told me about the mud volcanoes of Balochistan, which are considered to be one the largest and highest of their kind in the world. I was amazed and awestruck and asked him to send me details about the volcanoes. He said he would and asked me to find a place called Aghor along the Makran Coastal Highway and then look towards its north east. And when I did on Google Earth, I easily spotted a line of volcanoes clearly visible as shown below.


Mud volcanoes, often referred to as mud domes are formations caused by geo-extracted liquids and gases. When the hot water mixes with the surface deposits, these form mound like shapes, with a conspicuous contrast from the surroundings. These volcanoes emit gases, a major portion of which is methane, besides nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Azerbaijan is famous for its highest volume of mud volcanoes in the world.

As per Wikipedia, there are more than 80 active mud volcanoes located in the Balochistan province. These volcanoes are located in clusters spread over almost ten locations, mostly between the Gwader Port and Delta of Hingol River. Near Gwader, these mud volcanoes are very small and mostly sit in the south of Jabal-e-Mehdi toward Sur Bandar. Many more exist in the north-east of Ormara. And as mentioned by my friend, I saw a major complex of volcanoes located in Lasbela District, scattered north of Miani Hor in the Hingol Valley and almost north of the Agor beach. In this region, the heights of mud volcanoes range between 800 to 1,550 feet (243.8 to 472.4 m). 




The most famous is Chandargup, which is located some three and a half miles south of the Makran Coastal Highway and 15 miles short of village of Sangal. The sea shore from Chandargup is around three and a half miles down south. 




However, the biggest crater is located north of a place called Sangal, east of the complex of volcanoes north of Agor (25°33'13.63"N. 65°44'09.66"E, located almost in between Karachi and Ormara port), which is about 450 feet (137.16 m) in diameter.

The biggest crater - about 450 feet (137.16 m) in diameter

The liquid mud that oozes out of these volcanoes is said to have healing powers and many people throng the area, despite the difficulties involved in reaching to these volcanoes to cure skin diseases. The phenomenon is identical to people going to hot water springs and taking bath for curing skin diseases. I remember such springs in Ramsar, Iran where the entire area has the aroma of sulpher which abounds in the hot water springs. However opening of the Makran Coastal Highway has brought people close to these volcanoes, and now only northward journey from the highways is to be undertaken either in jeeps or on foot.

No one knows hw old these volcanic mounds are, but in the archives a mention of these is found from the travelogue of Sir Frederick John Goldsmid, who in 1862 as an army major had travelled from Karachi to Gwader. His memories recount having passed by bubbling springs near Ras Koocheri and Ormara. He also mentions of a Hindu temple near one of these volcanoes known locally as Chandargup, meaning in local language “the volcanoes of moon.”

The coastal areas of Balochistan are famous for such mud volcanoes. Readers would remember emergence of an island some three kilometers inside the Arabian Sea south of Hingol River delta and some 15 kilometers from the Ormara port in November 2010. The island was 300 feet high and stretched over an area of three kilometres. Locals claim that a similar island had earlier emerged at the same place in 2004, but vanished after a few months. Geologically, a mud volcanic island is formed when fluidized soft mud is expelled at high speed.

The Makran Coastal Highway has brought these natural wonders within hours drive form Karachi. But the sites of the mud volcanoes have yet to be developed into tourists’ attractive sites, as has been done in other countries. Beside people visiting these volcanic sites for healing of skin diseases, very few tourists visit the areas, except those who have a flare for rough and tough drives.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good.

Anonymous said...

Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

Shirazi said...

Very well researched article Jalal HB. Good.

jalalHB said...

Thanks everyone and SAJS

Wind gambler said...

My father made da make an costal highway and he walk every inch of it
beautiful site of Pakistan. And I being a pilot fly our baluchistan almost every day I saw same volcano In Dalbadin near chaghi
Balochistan is a land of gold for Pakistan both black gold and golden gold is availble I saw Sandak mine .

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