A giant mountain of mud found under the Indian Ocean's Nicobar Islands is being closely monitored by geologists who fear a tsunami could be triggered by a massive landslide. Smith Dharmasarojana, chairman of the National Disaster Warning Centre Committee, said the geologists from India recently discovered the giant mud mountain, and some parts of it measured more than seven kilometres high.

He conceded there was little information on the mud formation but it is widely believed it was formed by sediment transported by rivers for over a thousand years accumulating under the sea.

The mud mountain is only 400 km from Phuket, he said.

''If a tsunami happens, it will definitely affect Thailand,'' said Mr Smith, adding that mud-triggered tsunamis had occurred in Canada and Australia.

According to Mr Smith, a team of Thai and German marine geologists found four smaller mud mountains only 200 km from Phuket island during a survey last year. The team surveyed the seabed for 1,500 sq km at a depth of 1,000 to 2,800 metres.

The finds are less scary compared to the one near the Nicobar Islands.

However, Mr Smith said he will ask for a budget of over 100 million baht from the cabinet to set up two additional buoys in international waters in an attempt to boost the efficiency of the tsunami early warning system. They will be placed about 200 km from Thai territorial waters.

Thailand is one of 11 countries that were hit by the killer waves in December 2004 following a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0-9.3 on the Richter scale in the Indian Ocean. The disaster claimed over 300,000 lives.

Mr Smith made his statement during a press conference on National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Volcano which will be broadcast tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Anond Snidvongs, Chulalongkorn University's geologist on the research team, agreed with Mr Smith, saying his comments were based on existing information.

But he said it is too early to say if Thailand is at risk of a tsunami if the mud mountain collapses.