Mud volcanoes, or mud domes, are pseudo volcanoes, as they do not produce lava and are not necessarily driven by magmatic activity. They are found in various parts of Italy and in most parts of the world including Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Various types exist and some are even artificial.
We recently visited an area with this unusual geological phenomena. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, near Modena: The Regional Nature Reserve, The Salse of Nirano, a regional nature reserve of international importance.
I thought the simplest, and hopefully most interesting, way to explain this area would be to take you along on a virtual tour. So don your shoes and we’re off…
How mud volcanoes form
These volcanoes form when hot water deep below the earth’s surface mixes with mineral deposits. This mixture eventually erupts, resulting in mud volcanoes, of which there are 6 main types, including salse. Salse mud volcanoes are water-dominated pools containing methane gas seeps.
Welcome to the Nature Reserve!
The Salse di Nirano Nature Reserve, rests in an area of beautiful hills which rise up into the Apennine mountains near the border of Emilia-Romagna and its southern neighbor, Tuscany.
The salse, or mud domes, create a moon-like hilly environment. One where it wouldn’t seem unlikely to see astronauts floating around!
The flora and fauna
The reserve’s flora and fauna is strictly limited to the plants and animals uniquely equipped to survive the humid zone with its clay soil. The only fauna (plant life) found is that which often grows along marine coasts. Yet despite this, it is home to a surprisingly wide variety of fauna. Amphibians, birds, insects, and even mammals such as fox, weasels, moles, hares, porcupines, and badgers!
Though small, covering only 209 hectares (516 acres), the reserve is one of Italy’s most important mud dome reserves, and one of Europe’s most complex. A variety of events and excursions are organized throughout the year, so if you’re ever in the area be sure to check out this unique park and see this amazing phenomena!
The Visitor’s Center is open according to the following schedule. Or you can simply visit the park and walk through it on your own any time.
|January & August||Closed||Closed|
|February & July||Reservations only|
|March – June, September||Monday – Saturday|
Sundays & holidays
|9:30 AM – 12:30 PM|
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
|October – December||Saturdays & Pre-holidays|
Sundays & Holidays
10-12 AM – 3-7 PM
And best of all, entrance to the reserve is free!
All images are my own.