Have you ever seen a running spring? The mud spring in the United States moved 55 meters in 2 years, and the stones were not filled like a bottomless pit

This “gulugulu” mud spring with bubbles seems to be harmless to humans and animals, but in fact it has been in Running after the railway, it has now destroyed a section of the railway and forced the railway company and the highway to be diverted.

It is a geyser in California, USA, which was discovered as early as 1953. But for more than 60 years, it has been bubbling quietly, coexisting peacefully with the nearby railroad and Route 111.

The “running” mud spring

However, after the earthquake in 2016, the mud spring began to get restless and moved towards the railway not far away. In just two years, it moved 55 meters. At one point, it was found to have moved a full 18 meters in just one day. It has become the world’s first and only moving geyser discovered by humans.

Three stages of mud spring expansion

Seeing that the spring water left a large moving trace on the surface , was about to have a close contact with the railway, and the railway company panicked and began to try to stop it. People first threw stones into the mud spring to try to fill the underground space, but the spring water was like a bottomless pit. While leisurely “eating” stones, they happily spit bubbles, but they couldn’t fill it up. The workers drove the excavator and checked the depth inside, trying to see how the rock-filling project was progressing, but the result was bottomless.

They made another row of 5 layers on the moving route of the spring. The high stone pier wall tried to make Niquan understand, “This road is dead, please go back the same way.” But the pervasive spring water directly penetrated the wall and stubbornly continued to rush to the railway. It finally pierced the ground beneath the railway in October 2019. However, the railway company was helpless and had to divert the route next to it, allowing the mud spring to continue to expand. Now this “naughty” mud spring has moved to the middle of the railway and the road.

With the lessons learned from the past, this time, the maintenance of the expressway is directly planned. Before the arrival of Niquan, the diversion was completed, but such a straight country road suddenly came to a big turn, which seemed a bit abrupt.

At present, geological experts have not found the exact reason for the formation and movement of the mud spring, but speculate that its movement is likely to be related to the 2016 earthquake. The only good thing people are happy about is that this mud spring doesn’t show any other strenuous movements and hazards other than bubbling and moving. After all, whether they are mud springs or geysers, they are generally in the active volcanic zone, and the power they can erupt is quite terrifying.

For example, the Luxi volcano in Indonesia, suddenly in 2006 Mud spewed out without warning. Mud billowed from cracks in the ground, flooding 12 villages, 30 factories, dozens of shops and a nearby busy highway, killing 12 people. The subsequent impact was even greater. The mud formed a mud lake with an area of ​​more than 700 hectares in the Sidoarjo area. As a result, the local people could not even plant the land, and 40,000 people reluctantly fled their homes.


Although the moving mud geyser in California is very rare, ordinary geysers are not a particularly rare geological phenomenon in the world or even in the United States. Therefore, we may be able to speculate the cause of the “mobile mud spring” from the cause of the geyser.

The geysers are mainly located on the edges of continental plates and on the plateaus and mountains, and are often accompanied by volcanoes. For example, in the Yellowstone National Park of the United States, there is the Yellowstone Volcano known as the “world’s largest super volcano”, and it is also the largest geyser area in the world, with thousands of hot springs, about 300 to 500 geysers.

The most famous one is “Holy Spring”, it is because It is named after it erupts on time every hour. Before the eruption of Honest Spring, the spring water at the surface of the spring will rapidly expand to form a large blue bulge; then there will be a “bang” explosion, and the spring water will be rushed to the sky more than 10 meters high; in the following tens of seconds to several days Within minutes, a large amount of white gas will continue to spew out together with hot water, like a natural fountain.

In addition to water vapor, some geysers will continuously emit methane and hydrogen sulfide gas, so don’t think of geysers as hot springs, If you approach rashly, it is likely to be poisoned.

The formation of geysers has strict requirements on geological conditions. First, geysers belong to a kind of groundwater, and the formation of groundwater must have fault zones; secondly , the underground rock layer contains long and narrow channels composed of cracks, crevices and stomatal spaces and an underground reservoir that can store water, which is the channel and necessary geological conditions for geysers to spew to the surface; finally, in volcanic areas, there are relatively sufficient underground thermal energy.

Schematic diagram of the geyser’s rock formation

These conditions are met , the geyser can erupt. So, how does it erupt? Take a look at the following simple diagram and you will understand. The spring water comes from the underground passage on the left, and this water source can be an underground river, It can also be a surface river or lake, and then the spring water is continuously injected into the small reservoir on the right from high to low. Since the water output of this reservoir is far less than the inflow, the spring water will overflow from the middle outlet.

Originally this is just a very ordinary spring, but due to the existence of heat sources in the ground, when the groundwater When heated, the internal hydrogen sulfide, methane, and evaporated water vapor will rise continuously. Because the temperature of the water in contact with the surface is very low, it is like a pressure cooker lid without vent holes. Seals the gas inside. Eventually, the gas and hot water will spew out together.

The cause of the “moving mud spring”

In fact, after knowing the cause of the geyser, we can roughly Guess the cause of California’s “moving mud springs”.

First of all, California is located on the St. Andrews fault, where there is active geological movement and a lot of volcanic activity. In particular, there are extensive submarine volcanoes at the outlet of the Gulf of California, where there are coral reefs 0.7 meters to 1 meter high, as well as crabs, tube worms and thermophiles living in the crater at a temperature of 350 °C. This provides the conditions for the formation of geysers.

And according to the data, California mud springs were before 2016 It’s just a geyser that keeps bubbling out of mud and can’t erupt and move. The reason why it cannot erupt like other geysers, scientists speculate that there are two relatively large possibilities.

First of all, in order for the spring water to erupt, the distance between the underground volcanic rocks and the surface water should not exceed 2,000 meters, so that it is possible to heat these springs to boiling, and there is enough heat to ensure that they “also” Not soaring”. And if there is not enough heat, the spring water will only boil, even like a hot spring, with a temperature of only about 30-50 ℃.

The second possible reason is “moving mud spring” The underground water storage space is very large, like an underground lake, it is not full at all, and it is very close to the ground, and there are many underground channels, which makes the internal heat and air easy to disperse and lose, and cannot be gathered to form a “fountain”.

This is actually easy to verify, because scientists have found in geological monitoring that if the geyser occurs at a shallow surface, it is often accompanied by magma eruptions. Because the surface here generally lacks a complete rock formation of silica (the main material for making glass), the spring water can easily mix with the soil to form a mud.

Then why did the mud spring move after 2016 Woolen cloth? Geologists believe that California’s more frequent seismic activity than volcanoes is the main reason.

Before the mud springs began to move in 2016, there were 142 minor earthquakes in southern California in the early morning of September 26th. There will be a large earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher. Sure enough, on the evening of December 8 of the same year, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake did occur in the nearby waters.

These earthquakes likely changed the topography and The structure of the fault zone has caused a certain inclination of the originally hollow underground lake. It was as if someone lifted one end of the water basin with their hands, so the underground mud spring naturally began to move slowly.

Although the moving mud springs did not cause huge damage to the local area, frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity are likely to continue to change the rock structure here. However, as far as our current research is concerned, scientists have not been able to accurately judge the changes brought about by geological activities, which will undoubtedly continue to threaten human life.