Australia’s fiery mountain is a mystery

Australia’s Burning Mountain is a coal seam that has been burning for at least 6000 years and no one knows what the cause is. The fire is subway, in the New South Wales region, just below Mount Wingen. Scientists suspect that it is even older than assumed and is without doubt the oldest known fire on the planet.

burning mountain
Mount Wingen, 1878, Conrad Martens, Wikimedia Commons
Some features of the fiery mountain

The coal seam is 27 meters below the surface and burns steadily. The temperature there is estimated to be 1000 degrees Celsius. In 1829 the geologist C.P.N Wilton confirmed that the fire was of carbonaceous origin.

There are small natural windows in the mountain through which heat escapes. In ancient times, the Wanaruah people used this heat to cook food and make tools. In ancient times, scientists thought that the smoke rising from the ground was of volcanic origin.

The mountain is located in a nature reserve. Tourists visit the site, attracted by this theme. The fire is moving, advancing 1 meter towards the sea. The ground in that area is discolored and very uneven, caused by the constant heat it receives. One can also smell a sulfuric odor and perceive ash in the air.

Harm to the ecology

It causes consequences to the ecology of the planet. The area that receives the heat is arid and rocky. It is an area without life of any kind. In addition, it emits greenhouse gases that add tons of carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere.

There are legends about the site, one tells that a widow’s tears set the coal on fire. Another tells that a warrior captured by “El Maligno” set the fire with his torch in order to escape. But science relates it to natural causes.

Scientists claim that it could have originated with a forest fire or caused by lightning. There are thousands of coal seam fires in different geographical points of the planet’s surface, although they extinguish by themselves after several months.

No one knows for sure when it will die out, but being fueled by oxygen it may remain burning as it has for thousands more years. Australia’s burning mountain is another of the many mysteries of our wonderful planet.

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