Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mud volcano in the middle of the ocean?

MUD spewing out of the sea 8km off the eastern coast of Trinidad could be a mud volcano that could form a temporary island.

Richard Robertson, head of the Caribbean nation's Seismic Research Unit, said the mud was pouring out of an opening or several openings in an underwater hill or mountain at a depth of 12-15m near the Point Radix coast.

“It's probably looking more and more like a mud volcano,” Mr Robertson said.

“Waves are breaking around it, which suggests that it is just below the water surface so it's only a matter of time when it breaches the surface. "Even if a so-called island is formed, it will eventually submerge because it is made of mud and is loose."

Since mud eruptions are not classified as a volcano, the Seismic Research Unit of Trinidad and Tobago does not plan to investigate further but will monitor the phenomenon.

A similar event occurred in 2001 off Erin Bay in the southern region of the oil and gas-producing twin-island nation when a mud volcano rose 1.5m above sea level, creating an island that collapsed after several days.

In 1997, a mud volcano erupted on land, burying 10 houses in the central village of Piparo. Villagers had reported rumblings days before.

Trinidad's eastern coast is a major area for oil and gas exploration and several companies have flown over the Point Radix coast to determine whether the mud eruption would affect their exploration operations.
The state-run Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management cautioned small boats to avoid the area.

Local villagers who depend mainly on fishing for their livelihoods said they were scared.
“I just pray that what happened in Montserrat don't happen here. We just have to pray,” said 50-year-old Isaac Sendall.

Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano began erupting in 1995 and eventually destroyed its original capital, Plymouth, and the island's airport. Much of the island's south remains uninhabitable.

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