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Mud Volcano Tourism Complex Inaugurated in Azerbaijan

By Nargiz Mammadli June 15, 2024

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The Mud Volcanoes Tourism Complex in the Gobustan village of the Absheron district, Azerbaijan / President.Az

Azerbaijan inaugurated a Mud Volcanoes Tourism Complex in Absheron district, home to the world's largest concentration of mud volcanoes.

President Ilham Aliyev toured the 12-hectare complex on Thursday. The complex boasts a comprehensive infrastructure, including an administrative building, a panoramic observation point, and pedestrian walkways around the volcanoes.

Construction of the complex began in 2021, located 59 kilometers southwest of Baku and approximately 17 kilometers northwest of Gobustan settlement, at an elevation of 235 meters above sea level. This development, also known as "Qılınc" (sword), was part of the Azerbaijan’s 2019-2023 Regional Socio-Economic Development State Program.

The Tourism Information Center at the complex features an exhibition hall and a workshop. Here, visitors can learn about the characteristics, natural, and therapeutic properties of mud volcanoes and see a life-size model of a mud volcano. The center also showcases around 80 rare minerals collected from across Azerbaijan.

The Nature History Exhibition Hall at the complex highlights the unique biodiversity of Azerbaijan's fauna. It features 98 animal skeletons from Azerbaijan and around the world, 870 species of dried insects, 57 live specimens in special liquid jars, various reptiles and amphibians, and paleontological exhibits.

Mud volcanoes are found in many countries around the world and Azerbaijan is recognized as a region of unique and classic mud volcanoes. Out of over 2,000 known mud volcanoes globally, more than 350 are in the eastern part of Azerbaijan and the Caspian basin. They are mainly distributed across the Absheron Peninsula, the islands around Baku, Shamakhi, Gobustan, and southeast Shirvan.

According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, over 100 volcanoes are in Gobustan. Forty of these volcanoes release large amounts of oil to the surface. There are eight islands in the Baku archipelago that originated from mud volcanoes.

The most active and frequently erupting volcanoes are in the Absheron Peninsula, including Lokbatan (25 eruptions), Keyraki (18), Otmanbozdagh (10), and Bozdagh-Guzdak (10).

The Bandovan volcano is especially intriguing. According to historical sources, in the Middle Ages, there was a city at its base. Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of dwellings, ceramic pottery, and tools 100-200 meters from the Caspian Sea near this volcano. This coastal city may have been destroyed not only by the rising Caspian Sea but also by a volcanic eruption.

A mud volcano is a mound of mud pushed up through the sediments above it. The craters are typically shallow and may occasionally erupt mud. These eruptions continuously rebuild the cones, which are easily eroded.

Some mud volcanoes form through hot-spring activity, where large amounts of gas and small amounts of water chemically react with the surrounding rocks, creating boiling mud. Variants include the porridge pot, a basin of boiling mud that erodes pieces of the surrounding rock, and the paint pot, a basin of boiling mud colored yellow, green, or blue by minerals from the surrounding rocks.