One of the most spectacular tourist attractions to visit in Romania is the Berca mud volcanoes in Buzau County. You can reach them directly from Bucharest, on a day trip and they can even be combined with other interesting phenomena from Buzau. Read here about other hidden gems in Romania.
Volcanoes in Romania
On the Romanian territory there was at one-time classical volcanic activity and behind it remained the extinct craters of those volcanoes. They can be seen in the central area of the country, in Covasna. The newest such extinct volcano is in Racos. You can read more about it here.
But it was observed that there are 2 types of volcanoes in Romania: in addition to the classic ones, mud volcanoes were also discovered here.
What are the mud volcanoes?
Muddy volcanoes are a spectacular phenomenon created by gases from depths greater than 3,000 meters, which push water from the groundwater and pass together through clay soil, thus reaching the surface.
Water in combination with clay forms mud, which once reaches the surface dries due to contact with air and forms conical structures similar to volcanoes, hence the name mud volcanoes.
1100 such volcanoes have been identified worldwide. In Europe and near it, muddy volcanoes are widespread in Azerbaijan, in the waters of the territory of Norway, in the Barents Sea, in the Caspian Sea, in Italy, in Ukraine, in the Republic of Moldova and last but not least, in Romania.
Muddy volcanoes form in areas rich in clayey and marly rocks that are located over a gas horizon. Water from either precipitation or groundwater penetrates through the cracks of the clay mass and creates in the mixture with clay a compost that will be raised by the gas pressure to the surface.
This material (water-soaked rock) is pushed by gases to the surface and gives rise by successive accumulations to a cone. Repeated deposits of material will lead in time to the increase in height of the cone. This cone has in the centre a small crater that is covered with water and shore.
When the mud has a thin consistency, flattened cones will form. The cones can be grouped in certain areas or can be isolated.
Over time, part of the mud removed by the earth’s entrails has dried up, another part flows in the form of lightning and another is ready to make its presence felt, bubbling incessantly in the small craters.
The main forms of relief that appear in the area of muddy volcanoes are ditches (ditches in the rock mass) and ravines (deeper ditches) that give the area a wild appearance. The development of these forms is accelerated by the lack of vegetation in the area due to the presence of salts.
The muddy volcanoes in Buzau are the most spectacular and the most famous mud volcanoes in Romania.
Berca mud volcanoes in Buzau
The muddy volcanoes from Pâclele Mari and Pâclele Mici can be found in the Subcarpathians, in Berca, Buzău County. They are the only miniature mud volcanoes in Europe, whose existence is due to gas eruptions from the earth.
In the area, they are known as “the mist” (pacla means mist in Romanian), and their resemblance to real volcanoes is quite high. Although the processes that take place at their level are similar, what differentiates them is the composition that is enticing to the surface. Instead of burning lava, these small cones bring mud and water to the surface.
Here, you can see a real mud volcano eruption.
Although you get the impression that this mud is grey lava, due to the curls that seem to boil, in reality, those bubbles are obtained due to the influence of underground gases. The area of muddy volcanoes is an arid one, with numerous mud crusts formed when it drained once it came out of the crater.
The muddy volcanoes in Buzau were discovered following research conducted in the area to discover oil sources, and these miniature craters were declared a nature reserve in 1924.
The highest muddy volcanoes in Romania do not exceed ten meters in height, and at the top you can see how the mud “boils” in liquid form, due to continuous gas emissions. As this phenomenon occurs continuously, the relief of the entire area has been altered by the formed ditches.
Facts about mud volcanoes
Smoking is prohibited near muddy volcanoes, as any source of the fire can ignite the methane gas in the area. It is also forbidden to approach volcanic craters, as they are quite fragile and can yield under the weight of a human.
Although the soil is barren, there are few plants that have adapted to the conditions, there are in the area of muddy volcanoes, a series of unique plants in Romania, which are found only in Central Asia.
Legends circulate in the area according to which the muddy area, with dry and cracked earth would be the epidermis of a dragon, which for centuries has its place in the depths of the earth.
When to visit muddy volcanoes?
The best times to visit the Berca muddy volcanoes are spring and autumn when the weather is dry. If it rains, the risk is that the whole area will become muddy than normal and thus will not be accessible.
In summer you can be sure that you will find here exactly the selenarian landscape for which they are famous, but the heat is just right, especially since there is no vegetation in the area.
In winter, a visit here is not recommended because the snow can soften the soil.
Being one of the most spectacular phenomena in Romania and a rare attraction worldwide, it is worth making a day trip from Bucharest to visit them. You can combine the trip with other attractions in the area to have a full day to enjoy the wild nature of Romania.
The large muddy volcanoes in Berca are not easy to find due to the lack of road signs, but you can visit the small ones that are located on the road. For the other ones, you can book a guided day tour.