German and Czech scientists are looking for a volcano that they believe is hidden underground in the Cheb area, west Bohemia, and that is responsible for the rich mineral springs in west Bohemian spas.

According to the researches, the volcano is located on the Czech side of the border near the village of Novy Kostel north of Cheb, the German daily die Welt writes today.

The scientists have known for a long time that magma from volcanic eruptions is closer to the surface in the Bohemia, Bavaria and Saxony triangle than anywhere in the world. It lies in the depth of a mere 30 km and exerts high pressure.

"It is the only area in the large space between the Alps and Iceland where such activities can be watched," Horst Kaempf from the Potsdam-based Geological Research Centre told the paper.

Scientists believe that the hidden volcano lies on Czech territory judging by the symptoms of underground eruptions.

However, the site was practically inaccessible before the fall of the Iron Curtain. At present Czech and German researchers are looking for the volcano together.

According to Kaempf, the possibility of a new volcanic eruption is very small in the nearest period, which in geological terms is the next several thousand years.

Josef Horalek from the Czech Academy of Sciences Geophysical Institute says that the current research could contribute to the clarifying of the origin of a huge amount of compressed carbon dioxide gas that explains the rich sources of mineral water in the area that is pushed up to the surface by the compressed CO2.

Quakes are relatively frequent in the Cheb area. The strongest earthquakes there were registered in the autumn of 1962, at the end of 1985 and the beginning of 1986, in 1997 and in 2000.