A large explosive eruption took place at Azerbaijani Ignatiy Stone Bank mud volcano in the Caspian Sea, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from the Umid gas field and 30 km (18 miles) from the coast, at around 17:45 UTC (21:45 LT) on Sunday, July 4, 2021. This region has extensive offshore oil and gas fields, and a high concentration of mud volcanoes.
The explosion, followed by huge flames, was seen from the coast of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, about 75 km (45 miles) east of the eruption site, and from space.
While initial reports mentioned an oil rig explosion as one of the possible causes, State Oil Company (SOCAR) confirmed no platforms or ships were damaged, indicating the cause is likely a mud volcano eruption, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from their Umid gas field.
"Only a volcano can cause this explosion because there were no accidents, explosions in any wells, platforms, ships. This is a sign of mud volcanoes in the Caspian Sea, which erupted and lasted for 20 - 30 seconds," said Gurban Yetirmishli, Director of the Seismological Service Center.
"It could certainly be a mud volcano," said mud volcano expert Mark Tingay of the University of Adelaide.
From Baku Boulevard, Azerbaijan the fire can be seen from miles away. No information on casualties at this point. Numerous boat patrols units have been dispatched to the sea. pic.twitter.com/RDVylIIhu3— CaucasusWarReport (@Caucasuswar) July 4, 2021
A brief thermal anomaly (17:45 UTC) and plume were also captured by #Meteosat-8. If this was a mud #volcano explosion, this is a rare (to my knowledge) case of a mud volcano eruption plume detected from space. Images from @CIRA_CSU. pic.twitter.com/REWhIy7pzB— Simon Carn (@simoncarn) July 5, 2021
Moments after the explosion at Umid gas field in Azerbaijan as a massive fireball can be seen from miles away. pic.twitter.com/zjjdHd3Zib— CaucasusWarReport (@Caucasuswar) July 4, 2021
Close up view of the explosion in the Caspian Sea as workers on the offshore platform confirm saying that they haven’t seen any oil platform in that area. This is said at 0:25 seconds of the video (translation via our follower). pic.twitter.com/O4jS863waZ— CaucasusWarReport (@Caucasuswar) July 4, 2021
Tingay first said that the location of the explosion fits roughly with the Makarov Bank mud volcano, which exploded on November 15, 1958, producing flames up to 600 m (2 000 feet) high and 150 m (500 feet) wide.
However, after further analyzing videos and thermal anomaly detected from space, Tingay concluded the source is the Ignatiy Stone Bank mud volcano, also known as Dashly island, about 30 km (18 miles) from the coast between the village of Alat and the city of Neftchala in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani helicopter visited the island early Monday morning:
The mud volcano in the Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan) is still active. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency has stated that "Currently, the weather is windy and strong waves do not allow ships to approach the shore. As soon as the waves subside, ships will enter the area.” pic.twitter.com/QGOqWObSUr— CaucasusWarReport (@Caucasuswar) July 5, 2021
Azerbaijan is home to 350 of the world's 700 known mud volcanoes.
The explosion comes after a fire on the ocean surface, west of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula early Friday, July 2, 2021.
The Gulf of Mexico is literally on fire because a pipeline ruptured pic.twitter.com/J4ur5MNyt1— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) July 2, 2021
State oil company Pemex blamed the fire on a gas leak from an underwater pipeline. The event was dubbed 'eye of fire' due to it's circular shape.
The gas leak ignited around 05:15 LT and was completely extinguished by 10:30 LT.
The explosion did not generate any spill, said Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico's oil safety regulator ASEA.
Pemex said it shut the valves of the pipeline and started an investigation.
Featured image credit: CaucasusWarReport