Limpopo volcano fire
© Mbusi Ka-Mphezulu/AENS
The Council for Geoscience is on its way to investigate this strange ground fire in Limpopo.
A couple of weird underground fires recently caught our attention. Scientists from South Africa's Council for Geoscience are gathering in Limpopo, the country's northernmost province of South Africa to investigate the mysterious appearance of a lava-like fire, which has injured three people after burning unabated for three weeks at Zaaiplaas Village in Sehlakwane.

Last month the Limpopo Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) received a call from the Sekhukune District Municipality regarding the emergence of an unusual fire, consisting of mud and grey ash in a damp wetland area on the outskirts of the village.

The fire has steadily burnt through an area larger than a rugby field, transforming the wetland into what looks like an active volcanic field. A community member, Mbusi Ka-Mphezulu, posted photos on Facebook of a lava-like substance glowing from underneath the ground. He said,
"While we were doing ANC work this is what we saw, the ground is on fire. It is like a volcano. People of Sehlakwane please take note of this unusual stuff."
In a Times LIVE article, unusual seismic activity, tree roots burning underground or the ongoing drought conditions, which have dried out the wetland, have all been pointed to as possible sources for the mysterious 'volcano' fire phenomenon.

Iraq volcano fire
© Facebook/Ahdath Kirkuk (screen capture)
Meanwhile, in Iraq, a video purportedly showing what initially seemed like molten lava gushing from the ground in the northern city of Kirkuk has recently gone viral, prompting speculation online that a "small volcano" had emerged.

Electrical fires and arcing can reach temperatures of over 3,000ºC. The sandy material beneath the surface in Kirkuk is likely quartz-rich and could be mixed with calcite - also common in the area - meaning it would have a melting point of between 1,000º and 1,500ºC.

After visiting the site, Ali Adel, a local volcano specialist, told Al-Sumaria News, that the molten sand was caused by "the combustion of an electric cable buried under the ground."

It's possible that an underground fire caused by electricity, and perhaps exacerbated by other combustibles, could have produced the sustained necessary heat to melt the sandy material, producing the "mini volcano", although it's likely that large quantities of molten rock underground would be necessary to sustain it.

The area around Kirkuk is known for its oil fields, and is not a volcanically-active area, although Iraq does have a number of extinct volcanoes. The nearest region with potentially active volcanoes is northern Iran. To have subterranean fires related to hydrocarbons, you really need coal, not oil. Underground coal fires can burn for decades, even thousands of years, but they burn at the 150-250ºC range, much too low to melt sand or rock.

Although the exact cause of these two mysterious incidents remain inconclusive, it does prompt some investigation into fires below Earth's surface.

Wild fires: 'As above, so below'

Fort McMurray wildfire
© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A giant fireball is seen as a wildfire rips through the forest 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alta. on Highway 63 on Saturday, May 7, 2016.
Currently media attention is focused on raging wildfires in the western US, Portugal and France, and earlier this year on the massive wildfire which devastated Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.

What has not received much attention are those fires beneath the earth's surface that never really go out. Yet these reignited fires - called holdover or sleeper fires - are becoming more common. Sixteen Alaskan wildfires have been attributed to holdovers this year alone. In the past, officials haven't even kept records of the number of holdovers, but they're rare enough that we know 16 in one region is abnormally high. One of this year's wildfires was started by a holdover fire from two years ago. It is often difficult enough to douse an established wildfire above ground - can you imagine trying to do so below ground?

door to hell in Turkmenistan
© Tormod Sandtorv - Flickr
The Door to Hell, a burning natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan.
A contributory factor to this 'abnormally high' increase may be 'outgassing' of methane and other natural gases. Here's a small sample we've collected of recent natural outgassing-related events: Sometimes when flammable gases ignite, they just don't go out. The "Door to Hell" is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan. It collapsed into an underground cavern in 1971, becoming a natural gas crater, 69 metres (226 ft) diameter and 30 metres (98 ft) deep. Geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas, and it has been burning continuously since then.

Centralia fire
© Flickr/Lyndi & Jason
Smoke emanating from a fissure in the road on the abandoned section of highway 61 near Centralia, PA. An underground mine fire has been burning there since 1962.
With more sinkholes and other fissures occurring as Earth 'opens up', the oxygen necessary for subterranean fire is provided. Increased seismic activity and years of under-investment also mean that existing underground pipeline infrastructure (many carrying natural gas and oil) will invariably fracture, potentially causing explosions and fires, many in urban areas.

Explosions from below: The Yamal peninsula crater-holes

Yamal crater
© Andrey Plekhanov, Marina Leibman
In the relentless quest for new and profitable oil and gas reserves, exploratory drilling can often have unforeseen consequences (such as the link between fracking and earthquakes). The location of the aforementioned 'door to hell' was originally thought to have been an oil field. Instead the engineers found gas, and the ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared.

With the potential for a dangerous release of poisonous gases from the cavern into nearby towns, burning the gas off seemed the most viable option, but after estimating it would burn out within a few weeks, it continues burning more than four decades later!

As well as an insight into the human propensity for thinking we know more than we actually do, for 'wishful thinking' as it were, that incident highlights the incredible danger which may be posed by these vast underground stores of methane and other gases.

In 2014 a mysterious crater-hole was discovered in the Yamal peninsular, northwest Siberia, Russia. It was 'probably caused by methane released as permafrost thawed' according to researchers, and the result of 'internal forces not seen in 8,000 years'. Since then new information has come to light, with witnesses reporting an 'explosion' and a 'glow in the sky' from 100 km away.

siberia methane bubble
© Alexander Sokolov/Vesti
Scientists discovered 15 'bubbles' filled with methane and CO2.
This would indicate an extremely powerful explosion occurred from below to form this 'crater-hole', in a region known in the local Nenets language as the 'end of the world'. The recent discovery by scientists of methane 'bubbles' on the remote Belyy Island in the Kara Sea off the Yamal Peninsula coastline may be another alarming sign of increased activity in the depths.

Last year an active underwater volcano spewing methane gas was found in southern Alaska. As the number of volcanoes erupting right now is greater than the 20th century's YEARLY average, a comparable escalation in activity of their underwater counterparts seems logical. But 'out of sight, out of mind' as the saying goes, and little attention is paid to these formidable unseen formations. To put this in perspective - it's estimated that there are up to one million submarine volcanoes on our planet!

Yamal map info on permafrost etc

Hydrocarbons, permafrost, pipelines, and cities in and around Yamal.
As the man-made global warming hoax spirals out of control, evidence suggests that the world is on the brink of a new ice age. The 'warming' that is taking place nowadays is likely due to increased volcanic activity (connected with a minute slowdown in planetary rotation), especially under the Arctic Ocean, where methane clathrate deposits are being ruptured in enormous quantities these days, releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.

The degassing process is a normal phenomenon in permafrost regions containing quantities of methane. With lightning strength and frequency increasing (an ignition source) and more venting of enormous mounds of methane (a source of fuel) occurring, potentially catastrophic explosions could result.

Including the initial Siberian 'crater-hole', seven craters have now been discovered in the Arctic region, five of which are on the Yamal peninsula. The planet itself gives us a historic and rather sobering visual reminder of this type of phenomenon. The google image below shows countless such craters, natural formations from the last ice age.

Yamal map showing craters

The site of the new 'sinkhole' is marked by the red balloon. It is just one among many other apparent 'crater-hole' shapes in the Yamal peninsular.
Whatever the origins of the ignition (accidental, piezoelectric, lightning strike or even 'cosmic'), and nature of the fuel (gas/coal/oil), these underground fires and explosions appear to be further disturbing signs of imminent and potentially catastrophic 'earth changes'.