WATCH: Onlookers Stunned When Bizarre ‘Mud Volcano’ Starts Erupting

by Lauren Boisvert

A mud volcano erupted at the Tabin Wildlife Park in Sabah, Malaysia, and visitors were shocked at the sight. Suddenly, mud started bubbling up from the ground at the Lipad Mud Volcano, treating onlookers to a rare experience. The mud volcano is about the size of a soccer field and doubles as a mineral salt lick for the varied species that live in the park.

According to Tabin Wildlife Holidays General Manager Lawrence Chin, this wasn’t the first time the mud volcano has erupted. It went off once in 2014 and again in 2019, in most recent years. Chin spoke with Malaysian outlet the Daily Express about the incident on Sunday.

“There were tour guides and tourists on their way for bird watching and visiting the surrounding area,” he said. “Suddenly there was a loud explosion and bubbles came out, the incident lasted for about 10 minutes.”

The effect, also called a mud dome, is caused by the eruption of mud, slurries, water, and gases underground. According to experts, the volcano in the park “could be thousands of years old.”

What Are Mud Volcanoes?

First of all, mud volcanoes aren’t true volcanoes. They don’t produce igneous rock or lava, and they aren’t formed by “magmatic activity.” They can form up to thousands of feet tall or stay under three feet. The smaller formations are often called mud-pots, similar to the paint pots in Yellowstone National Park.

Super-heated water mixing with minerals underground forms the mud-like slurry that exudes from these volcanoes. Due to pressure imbalances, the slurry is forced through a fissure and out into the open, causing the mud dome. 86% of the gases involved in the eruptions is methane, with carbon dioxide involved on a smaller scale. They can range from 212 degrees Fahrenheit to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, which are called cold pots. The cold pots can be used as restorative mud baths. Additionally, the clay from a cold pot on California’s Mendocino Coast is sometimes harvested for pottery projects by local artists.

Yellowstone has an area known as the Mud Volcano, but it’s actually a collection of mud pots and hot springs rather than a singular thermal event. Though, the “Vertically Gifted Cyclic Mud Pot” sometimes acts as a geyser and throws mud up to 30 feet in the air. Overall, there are mud volcanoes and mud pots all over the world, and they each have their own unique effects and behaviors. Definitely worth seeing at least once.