Mud Volcanoes

Map showing the location of onshore mud volcanoes in relation to the oilfields.

Location of active and fossil mud volcanoes (after Higgins and Saunders 1974) and the location of oil fields in Trinidad

Origin of mud volcanoes



Impact of Eruptions

Tabaquite Mud Volcano

Devil’s Woodyard

Cascadoux Mud Volcano

Karamat Mud Volcano

Lagon Bouffe

Point Radix

Quinam Road

Digity Mud Volcano

L’Envieusse Mud Volcano

Anglais Point

Palo Seco Mud Volcano

Marac Mud Volcano

Erin Bouffe

L’Eau Michele


Piparo Mud Volcano


Rock Dome

Moruga Bouffe

Mudflow deposits at Taparo Point

Mudflow deposits at Erin Point

The term “mud-volcano” generally is applied to a more or less violent eruption or surfaces extrusion of watery mud or clay which almost invariably is accompanied by methane gas, and which commonly tends to build up a solid mud or clay deposit around its orifice which may have a conical or volcano-like shape. The source of a mud volcano commonly may be traced to a substantial subsurface layer or diapir of high¬ly plastic, and probably undercompacted, mud or shale. Mud volcanoes also commonly appear to be related to lines of fracture, faulting, or sharp folding. There appears to be a close in¬terrelation between undercompacted (overpres¬sured) muds or shale bodies, mud or shale diapirs, mud lumps, and mud volcanoes; and all degrees of gradation from one to another. Mud volcanoes are one of the most useful surface sources of information on the nature of ma¬terials in mud diapirs and undercompacted shale bodies.
The motivating force responsible for a mud volcano is, in part, simply the weight of rock overburden borne by the fluid content of un¬decompacted shales. However, mud volcanoes all over the world are associated so invariably with quietly or explosively escaping methane gas that it is reasonable to conclude that the presence of methane gas in the subsurface is also an essential feature of the phenomenon. The mud of the volcanoes is a mixture of clay and salt water which is kept in the state of a slurry by the boiling or churning activity of escaping methane gas. Probably the methane gas was derived either directly from organic matter in muds or shales or from secondary accumulations in sand stringers within the source-rock shale or from larger reservoirs just above or just below such shales. Some liquid oil often, but not always, is associated with the hydrocarbon gases of mud volcanoes.
Commonly the activity of a mud volcano is simply a mild surface upwelling of muddy and usually saline water accompanied by gas bubbles. However, many ,instances are known of highly explosive eruptions where large masses of rock have been violently blown out hundreds of feet into the air and scattered widely over the countryside. These intermittent violent eruptions strongly suggest that motive force is not merely weight of gradually in¬creasing overburden but is due to periodic buildup and release of internal pressure from the generation of methane gas within the shale body or diapir. (Hedberg, H.D. , 1974 , Role of methane generation to undercompacted shales, Shale diapirs and mud volcanoes. Bull. AAPG, V. 58, No. 4, P. 661 – 673)

Trinidad Mud Volcano References

Archie, C. 2002 Field Trip Guide to : (a) The Upper Cruse Formation at Anglais Point PaloSeco (b) The PaloSeco and Anglais point Mud Volcanoes GSTT field trip Guide

Archie,C. 2003 A Visit to the Digity mud volcano, and examination of the sedimentology of the Forest Formation in Debe and Upper Morne L’Enfer Formation in Penal.GSTT Field Guide

Archie,C. 2004 A visit to the Karamat Mud Volcano and examination of a Forest outcrop in Morne Diablo and Lower Morne L’Enfer Formation, Renal Rock Road.GSTT Field Guide

Archie, C. 2006 A guide to selected mud volcanoes of southern Trinidad on mobile shale, Trinidad  AAPG Hedberg conference 

Archie, Curtis, 2007, Field Trip Guide To Selected Mud Volcanoes in southern Trinidad, Transactions of the 4th Geological Conference of the GSTT

Archie, C. 2009 A Review Of Activity At Devil’s Woodyard 2003 – 2008 The Hammer, August 2009, p. 26 – 36

Archie, C. & Moonan, X., 2011, GSTT Field trip to the Marac Quarry and Mud Volcano

Archie, C. , 2012 , A pictoral survey of mud volcanoes in Trinidad, 5th GSTT Conference
Archie, C. , 2012, Activity at the Piparo and Devil’s Woodyard mud volcanoes : 2003 – Present, 5th GSTT Conference


Anderson, Robert 1911 A new gas volcano in Trinidad Science, V. 34, P 834 – 835

Arnold R. 1912 Note on mud island appearing off Chatam coast, 31/10/1911. Petroleum World. March.
Arnold R. & Macready G.A. 1956 Island forming mud volcano in Trinidad, British West Indies. Bull. AAPG Vol 40 No 11 p 2748 – 2758

Banerjee, K.S. & Ifill, A., 2022, Assessment of natural radioactivity level before and after a mud-volcano eruption: A study from Piparo mud-volcano, Trinidad and Tobago, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 251–252 (2022) 106953

Barr K.W. 1953 The mud volcanoes of Trinidad. Caribbean Quarterly Vol.3 No.2 p 80 – 85.
Birchwood K.M. 1965 Mud volcanoes in Trinidad. Inst. Petrol. Review Vol.19 No.221 p 164 – 167.

Blake, O., Ramsook, R., Iyare, U.C., Moonan, X. & Gopaul, R.C., 2021, Integrating pseudo-3D ERT and DEM to map the near-surface structures and morphology of the Piparo mud volcano, Trinidad. Journal of Applied Geophysics 194 (2021) 104442

Bower T.H. 1951 Mudflow occurrence in Trinidad (BWI). Bull AAPG Vol.35, No.4 p 908 – 912.
Burke, K., Casey, J.; Robertson, P. 1984 Deformation of Orinoco Delta mud diapirs in the South Caribbean strikeslip plate boundary zone
Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, April 17, 1984, Vol. 65, Issue 16, pp. 190
Castrec-Rouelle,M., Bourles,D.L., Boulegue,J. Dia, A.N. 2002 Beryllium geochemistry constraints on the hydraulic behavior of mud
volcanoes: The Trinidad island case. Earth and planetary science letters, V. 203, N 3-4, p.957-966
Deville,E. , Battani, A. Griboulard, R., Gueralis, S., Herbin, J.P., Houzay, J.P. & Prinzhoffer,A. 2002 The origins and processes of mud
volcanism: insight from Trinidad 16th Caribbean Geological Conference Abstracts, p75
Deville,E. , Battani, A. Griboulard, R., Gueralis, S., Herbin, J.P., Houzay, J.P. & Prinzhoffer,A. 2003 Processes of mud volcanism in the
Barbados-Trinidad compressional system (SE Caribbean): New structural and geochemical data Geophysical research abstracts, V.5,
Deville,E. , Battani, A. Griboulard, R., Gueralis, S., Herbin, J.P., Houzay, J.P. & Prinzhoffer,A. 2003 Processes of mud volcanism in the
Barbados-Trinidad compressional system: New structural , thermal and geochemical data AAPG annual conference, Salt Lake City, Utah
Dia, A. N.Castrec-Rouelle, M.; Boulegue, J.; Bourles, D. L. 1998 Deep-sourced fluids and recharge mechanism with surface aquifers; the
Trinidad mud volcanoes case Mineralogical Magazine, September 1998, Vol. 62A, Part 1, pp. 381-382

Dia, A.N. , Casterec-Rouelle, M. , Boulegue, J & Comeau, P. 1999 Trinidad mud volcanoes : Where do the expelled fluids come from?
Geochima et Cosmochima Acta, Vol. 63, No. 7/8, p 1023 – 1038
Drew I.M., Kerr P.F. & Richardson D.S. 1970 Mud volcano clay, Trinidad, West Indies Bull AAPG V. 54 N.11 p 2101-2110.

Faugeres, J. C., Gonthier, E.; Griboulard, R.; Grousset, F.; Boutolleau, V.; Aouni, M. 1992 Mud volcanoes from Trinidad; tectonic and sedimentary settings; comparison to the South Barbados Wedge Programme dynamique et bilans de la Terre; resultats des travaux 1988-1992
Feyzullayev,A. 2003 Geological conditions and peculiarities of the mud volcanoes formation Abstracts AAPG annual convention, Salt Lake City, Utah,

Gopaul, R., Blake, O., Rambaran, V. Ali, I., Ousman, A., Iyare, U.C., Ramsook, R. & Moonan, X. , 2019, 4D Resistivity and UAV Acquisition and Monitoring of the Piparo Mud Volcano, Trinidad, West Indies. AAPG 2019 International Conference and Exhibition, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 27-30, 2019

Herring A.T. & Nettleton L.L. 1979 Quantitative analysis of a mud volcano gravity anomaly. Geophysics V.44 N.9 p 1518-1524.
Higgins G.E. & Saunders J. 1974 Mud volcanoes – their nature and origin. Verhandl Naturf. Ges Base Vol.84 No.1 p 101 – 152
Higgins G.E. & Saunders J.B. 1967 Report on the 1964 Chatam mud island Erin Bay, Trinidad, West Indies. Bull. AAPG Vol. 51 No.1 p 55- 64.
Higgins G.E. & Saunders J.B. 1974 Mud volcanoes – their nature and origin. Contributions to the geology and paleobiology of the Caribbean and adjacent areas. Verhandl naturf. Ges. Basel, Band 84, Nr.1, 520pp.
Kerr, P. , Drew, I.M. & Richardson, D.S. 1970 Mud volcano clay, Trinidad, West Indies Bull AAPG V. 54, No 11, p 2101 – 2110
Knight, J.C. , Scott, J.P. & Grierson, L.H. 1998 The Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano of Trinidad: Chemistry and mineralogy 15th Caribbean geological conference – Articles, Field guides & abstracts, p84
Knight, J.C. , Scott, J.P. & Grierson, L.H. 2002 The Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano of Trinidad: Chemistry and mineralogy
Caribbean geology- into the third millennium :Transactions of the15th Caribbean geological conference, p221- 228
Kugler H.G. 1932 Contributions to the knowledge of sedimentary volcanism in Trinidad. Jour. Inst. petrol. technol. Vol.19 No.119 p 743 – 760.
Kugler H.G. 1936 Nature and significance of sedimentary volcanism. Sci. Petroleum 1 p 297 – 299 (Oxford University Press)
Kugler H.G. 1968 Sedimentary Volcanism. Trans. 4th Caribbean Geological Conference, Trinidad p 11 – 13.
Mann, P., and Wood, L 2003 Shale diapirs, mud volcanoes, and fluid systems in offshore Trinidad and eastern Venezuela AAPG International meeting, Barcelona, Spain, September, 2003
Nettleton, L. L. & Herring, A. T. 1979 Quantitative analysis of a mud volcano gravity anomaly Geophysics, September 1979, Vol. 44, Issue 9, pp. 1518-1524
Nettleton, L. L. & Herring, A. T. 1979 Quantitative analysis of a mud volcano gravity anomaly Abstracts – Society of Exploration Geophysicists International Meeting, 1979, Issue 49, pp. 67

Schulze-Makuch et al, 2020, A chemical and microbial characterization of selected mud volcanoes in Trinidad reveals pathogens introduced by surface water and rain water, Science of the Total Environment 707 (2020) 136087

Stauffer, H., 1935, The mudflow movement on September 13th – 14th in the L’Envieuse Estate, Cedros

Sullivan, S., Wood, L. & Mann, P., 2004,Distribution, Nature and Origin of Mobile Mud Features Offshore Trinidad, Gulf Coast Section of the SEPM 24th Bob F. Perkins Research Conference

Wach, G.D. & Archie,C. 2006 Reservoir distribution and production in mobile shale basins – examples from the Cruse Formation of on mobile shale,  Southern Trinidad, AAPG Hedberg conference
Weeks W.G. 1929 Notes on a new mud volcano in the sea off the south coast of Trinidad. Jour. Petrol. Tech. Vol.15 No.74 p 385 – 391.

Wharton, S.R. & Hudson, D. 1995 Report on a recent eruption of the mud volcano, Devil’s Woodyard, south Trinidad Abstracts 3rd GSTT Conference and 14th Caribbean Geological Conference and 14th Caribbean Geological conference, Trinidad, p. 85
Wilson C.C & Birchwood K.M. 1965 The Trinidad mud volcano island of 1964. Proc. Geol. Soc. London No. 1626 p 169 – 174.
Wilson C.C. 1930 Mud Flow. Jour. Inst. Petrol. Vol.10 p 578 – 580.
Yassir N.A. 1987 Mud Volcanoes : Evidence of neotectonic activity. Mem. Geol. Soc. China N.9 p 513-524.