Mud volcanoes at Nirano, N. Italy (Pic: D. Oppo)

Mud volcanoes are hazards as their mudflows can destroy infrastructures and intense activity may endanger the natural ecosystems and societies nearby.

The Sidoarjo Mud Volcano in North Eastern Java, which suddenly erupted in 2006, within weeks submerged several villages with boiling mud, forcing thousands from their homes. Scientists extensively debated the formation of Sidoarjo and proposed contrasting trigger mechanisms for its genesis (here and here). This discussion is a perfect example of the large uncertainties still present in our understanding of the phenomenon.

We investigate the processes governing the birth and evolution of mud volcanoes, with particular attention to their interaction with, and influence on, the surrounding geological environment both on Earth and on Mars.

Powerful eruption of a large mud volcano near Baku, Azerbaijan