There are 850 mud volcanoes in the world, and over 300 of them are in Azerbaijan. Our country is a world leader, not only for the number but also for the activity of its volcanoes. Most located on Absheron, around Baku. That are 100 near the Gobustan reserve alone. There are another 200 on the islands of the Baku archipelago and in Shamakha and Shirvan Districts, two hours’ drive from Baku. There are far fewer mud volcanoes in Turkmenistan; they also found in Pakistan, Ukraine, Columbia, Trinidad, Romania, Burma, Malaysia etc.
In 2001, one mud volcano 15 kilometers from Baku made world headlines when it suddenly started ejecting flames 15 meters high. Gobustan mud volcanoes were included as one of 50 natural wonders by CNN Travel. Many geologists as well as locals and international mud tourists trek to such places as the Firuz Crater, Gobustan, Salyan and end up happily covered in mud which is thought to have medicinal qualities.
On the average, every twenty years or so, a mud volcano may explode with great force in Gobustan, shooting flames hundreds of metres into the sky, and depositing tonnes of mud on the surrounding area.
While standing near a volcano, one can hear an underground rumble.
A shaking of the earth, a roaring, as if after an explosion.
It is also possible to see the emission of breccia and the spontaneous combustion of methane gas.
Accompanied by a fiery column 200 to 500 metres high.
They spectacle is quite impressive, but it is not a good idea to come too close.
Because the temperature at the epicentre may range from 1,000 to a fantastic 12,000 degrees Centigrade.
The appearance of the Zoroastrian religion in Azerbaijan almost 2,000 years ago is closely connected with these geological phenomena, and Azerbaijan’s etymology – Land of the Eternal Fire derives from its Zoroastrian history.