The Mud Volcano of Fiatfalva



 

How to get here

Arriving to the town of Cristuru Secuiesc from the direction of Odorheiu Secuiesc, as we pass the the town centre we will see the main road turning right. Here we do not follow the main road but go straight ahead to the by-way. We go along this street and after a while we will se the sign post indicating the way to Fiatfalau. We turn right following the indication and when we get to the village centre we can see an information board right in the centre presenting the nature reserve.

Then we follow our way throughout the village, and approximately 1,7 km after the village, we will see a sign post showing that we have to turn left to the cart-way to find the nature reserve. It is advisable to leave our cars here and continue on foot. After approximately 500 meters on the right we will pass over a small stream. Soon we will see three strange, grassy hills.

Map of the road from Odorheiu Secuiesc to the Mud Volcano of Fiatfalva

Description of the area

 The geological reserve can be found 1 km west from the town of Cristuru Secuiesc, near to the village of Fiatfalva (Fiatfalau). Besides this reserve the village is also famous for the castle of the Ugron family and the sycamores that can be found in its backyard. As these trees demand high temperature and lots of light, they are quite rare in the region.

The mud volcano is located south-west of the village in the hillside of the Cserehát-hill, within an area called “Fehérszék” („White Chair”) by locals, as when the weather is dry, salt precipitates and turns the area white.

At the beginning of the last century a geologist, Dr. János Bányai identified several mud volcanoes in the region along the rivers of Fehér Nyikó and Kis-Homoród. Recent research revealed others in Székelykeresztúr, Kissolymos, Erdőszentgyörgy, Korond, Kobátfalva, Székelyszentmihály, Rugonfalva, Kisgalambfalva and Szejkefürdő, but the mud volcanoes of Fiatfalva are best preserved. Therefore this area of 1 ha was declared a geological reserve.

Mud volcanoes found here are not real volcanoes, rather cold mud volcanoes and they are formed in the presence of natural gases, mostly on loose soil, where decomposition of organic materials produce lots of carbon hydrates, sulphur hydrates, carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are collected under the surface until their force does not defeat the pressure of the mud and loam layers. In 1913 the suppressed methane came to the surface in an explosion and formed the mud volcano that can be seen nowadays.

Today there are three mud volcanoes in this area. The northern one had a diameter of 6 m and it is 2,5 m high forming a cone with several small craters. The eastern one, which has an oval shape, is the largest one, it is 22 m long, 10 m wide with a muddy pond inside its crater. The third one is not active, its diameter is 4-4,5 m, its height is 3 m and it is covered with grass.

As the discharging water is slightly salty, some of the vegetation is tolerant to salt such as the Marsh Arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris). Some other plants typical to the marshlands are: the True Fox-sedge (Carex vulpina), the Marsh Spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris), the Broadleaf Cattail (Typha latifolia), the Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum), the Softstem Bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani), the Common reed (Phragmites communis), the Loose-Flowered Orchid (Orchis laxiflora), the Water Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis palustris), the Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), the European meadow russ (Juncus inflexus).

The mud streams are often visited by the European Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) wild boars (Sus scrofa).

4 km from the mud volcanoes there is a large nature reserve: the Natura 2000 Segesvár-Nagyküküllő Habitat (ROSCI0227).

Natura 2000 is an ecological network of protected areas in the territory of the European Union which are selected according to two directives, the Birds Directive (79/409/EC)  and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EC). Accordingly there are two types of Natura 2000 areas: special protection areas for birds (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation to be designated for other species, and for habitats (SACs or SCIs). The aim of the network is to protect the biological diversity of Europe. The Natura 2000 areas are usually large territories that are not necessarily incompatible with human activities, but when there is a plan of infrastructural investment or a building plan, it has to be investigated whether the protected species and habitats are effected by the planned investments and destroying these areas should be avoided or the areas have to be replaced. Besides these restrictions, they support the protection and research of the Natura 2000 areas and ecological agriculture. Similar to these initiatives there are the agro ecology funds that can be called not only for Natura 2000 areas but also for the so-called agricultural areas of high nature value. (The largest part of Szeklerland is considered such.)

Szentes Lajos, Demeter László

 
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