The mud volcanoes near Berca in eastern Romania are holes or cones in the ground from which natural gas has transported mud and clay upwards, creating a spectacular lunar landscape.
The mud volcanoes are an impressive geological phenomenon in Romania, which can be found near the Romanian commune of Berca in Buzău County. Since 1924, the desert-like area of the mud volcanoes, covering 30 square kilometres, has been protected as a nature reserve.
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PICTURES: Mud volcanoes near Berca
The mud volcanoes of Berca can be thought of as mini-volcanoes, whose cones rise slightly above the ground and are a few metres wide. The largest of them reach a diameter of 8 metres.
Formation of the mud volcanoes near Berca
When it was formed, every mud volcano was a hole in the ground through which gases from the earth's interior spew clayey soil and mud outwards. Gradually, deposits of these "greetings from the depths" form around the hole, which over decades form volcanic cones. Inside the mud volcano it continues to bubble away and the gases from a depth of 3,000 m come to the surface as huge bubbles.
Tip: If the gases from the earth are particularly active at the moment, the entire plateau may be a single mud puddle. Shoes can quickly get lost or become completely filthy. It is best to take rubber boots with you, plastic bags on your shoes only make walking in the mud more difficult!
The mud from the earth's interior contains many salts and sulphur, so only a few plants can settle in the hostile volcanic area. The absence of flora and fauna makes the mud volcano area a veritable moonscape.
On the way to the mud volcanoes near Berca
The mudvolcanoesaround Berca are signposted "Volcanii noroiosi" shortly before Buzău. The way to Berca leads along an asphalt road through picturesque villages and wildly romantic countryside, where obsolete drilling towers point to the rich oil and gas deposits.
The bubbling mud cones are concentrated in two regions called "The Small Mud Volcanoes" and "The Big Mud Volcanoes". The former are labelled "Pacle Mici" and offer many small mud volcanoes. In the case of the "Pacle Mari" you will find few, but larger specimens.
The plateaus with the mud volcanoes are best explored on foot, because even for an off-road vehicle the route can sometimes be difficult.
Art tip for the way back
Those who still have time for a detour after visiting the mud volcanoes should head towards Magura and on to Hales on the way back to Buzău. About halfway there is the Ciolanu Monastery, but it is not the only sight in the area. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Romanian Artists' Association held its summer festival here. The works created in the course of this are scattered as sculptures across the picturesque landscape.