Mud Volcano / Sulphur Caldron, Yellowstone National Park

Mud Volcano


Photo by Harlan Kredit, courtesy of National Park Service

The sizzling basin known as Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano is one of the most volatile hydrothermal areas in Yellowstone National Park. And it is one of the most eerily intriguing. Sulfur is responsible for the peculiar sights, sounds and smells. - Iron sulfide paints mudpots and fumaroles shades of brown and gray. Hydrogen sulfide gurgles and hisses and produces a pungent rotten egg smell. Sulfuric acid, twice as acidic as battery acid, cooks the terrain creating a graveyard of skeleton trees. - Sour Creek Dome, a volcanic vent called a resurgent dome, is the source of instability. It's of little consequence that Mud Volcano, the hydrothermal feature for which the area is named, no longer throws mud nor rumbles noisily.
What is a Mud Volcano?
Mud Volcano

Mud Volcano

S.R. Brantley courtesy U.S. Geological Survey

Mud volcanoes, also called mud domes, are small volcano-shaped cones of mud. Like mud pots, mud volcanoes have little water. Their dominant fluid is gas. As the gas rises through the ground it dissolves the rock and makes mud just as a mud pot would. But in the case of a mud volcano, the hot mud does more than boil and churn. It flows like lava or explodes into the air. Mud volcanoes erupt when the pressure from underground gas is more than the earth can bear. And while the geothermal feature at Yellowstone called Mud Volcano not longer flows it once erupt enough mud to cover the surrounding trees.
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