Mud volcano explodes, lighting up the Caspian Sea

A large fire has broken out late Sunday in the Caspian Sea, where Azerbaijan has vast offshore oil and gas fields. Footage circulating on social media showed the huge blaze visible from the coast, and earlier media reports suggested there had been an explosion on an offshore platform. The fire occurred about 6 miles from the Umid gas field, south of Baku, the Azerbaijani capital.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) told the APA none of its oil platforms were affected by the incident. No injuries have been reported. However, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Emergency Situations denied these reports and said there had been no accident. The ministry said it was investigating the cause of the fire. Azerbaijani news agency APA quoted a state oil company SOCAR spokesman as saying a blast took place about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Umid gas field, which is 75 kilometers (45 miles) off the coast of the capital, Baku. According to preliminary information cited by SOCAR, an eruption of a mud volcano caused an explosion. Azerbaijan’s Republican Seismological Center offered the same explanation. It’s the second time in two days a fiery water incident has been detailed.

On July 2 an underwater pipeline leaking gas into the Gulf of Mexico set the surface 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 throughout the Twittersphere. A mud volcano is exactly as the name suggests: a volcano that erupts with muddy fluids, rather than lava.