Caspian Sea explosion: Huge fireball sighted off coast of Azerbaijan

At approximately 9.30pm on Sunday, a fireball lit up the night sky in the Caspian Sea south of the capital city of Baku. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, yet some experts believe it may have been the result of exploding gas given off by a mud volcano.

Initial reports stated the explosion occurred at an oil platform, but the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) said no accidents had taken place.

Ibrahim Ahmadov, a representative of SOCAR told APA news agency: “No accidents have occurred on marine platforms and industrial facilities under the direct control of SOCAR, and the work continues in normal mode.

“We will inform the public if there is any additional information.”

Authorities are currently investigating the cause of the blast, but the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Republican Seismological Service Center believe the explosion was caused by an “erupting mud volcano”.


Gurban Yetirmishli, director of the Republican Seismological Service Center, told APA that due to the numerous volcanoes in the area, an eruption is the likely culprit.

He said: “This is a sign of a mud volcano. There are many mud volcanoes in the Caspian Sea, one of which erupted.”

He added: “The rapid extinguishing of the explosion is also a sign of this.

“If there was a gas field, it would take days to put out the fire.”

A mud volcano is a natural phenomenon that, unlike most other volcanoes, does not produce lava.

However, high amounts of methane are usually released from the landforms which can range from only 1 or 2 metres to over 700 metres tall and ten kilometres wide.

SOCAR have issued a statement since the incident reporting that offshore gas platforms are working as normal.

A similar explosion was observed in 1958 when the submerged Makarov Bank mud volcano sent a jet of burning gas and liquids into the sky.

The Makarov bank incident could be seen from the coast about 20km away and created an initial fireball several kilometres high according to the Geological Institute of Azerbaijan.


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