Mysterious Underground Fire In Australia Has Been Burning For At Least 6,000 Years

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Mysterious Underground Fire In Australia Has Been Burning For At Least 6,000 Years

A mysterious fire in Australia has been burning for around 6,000 years and it is only now that scientists are beginning to understand the true nature of the so called 'Burning Mountain'.


Located at Mount Wingen in the Australian state of New South Wales the underground fire, first noted by European settlers around 200 years ago, continues to burn to this day. The fire is fuelled by huge underground reserves of coal, known as a 'coal seam fire', which are notoriously difficult to extinguish. The fire has been so strong in the past that the first explorers actually thought that it was a volcano that they had discovered.


Guillermo Rein, of Imperial College London, told Science Alert:


"No one knows the size of the fire under Burning Mountain, you can only infer it. It's likely a ball of around 5 to 10 meters in diameter, reaching temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius [1,832 Fahrenheit]."


Adding:


"Ahead of the fire where it hasn't arrived you see this beautiful eucalyptus forest. Where the fire is now there's absolutely nothing alive, not even grass. And where the fire was 20 to 30 years ago, the forest has come back, but it's a different forest – the fire has shaped the landscape."


Quite how the fire started is unclear, as most coal seam fires are caused by human action, something that clearly did not start this fire. Instead, it is speculated that a lightning strike or other natural event ignited the initial fire. What is however clear is that the fire continues to burn as a vast cave system pulls oxygen from the surface allowing the fire to continue burning.


Rein says:


"You cannot rule out anthropogenic interference, but it was most likely natural causes. It could have been wildfire from a lighting strike that ignited an outcrop. Or it could have been self-heating ignition. It's not just that it's 6,000 years old… it's at least 6,000 years old. It could actually be hundreds of thousands of years old."


How long the fire will continue to burn is unclear. This will depend on how much coal is left and whether the fire goes too deep and becomes oxygen starved. Thankfully the fire is too far away from any civilisation to pose any danger of threat to humans or animals.


[Based on reporting by: Science alert]


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Thinking Humanity: Mysterious Underground Fire In Australia Has Been Burning For At Least 6,000 Years
Mysterious Underground Fire In Australia Has Been Burning For At Least 6,000 Years
A mysterious fire in Australia has been burning for around 6,000 years and it is only now that scientists are beginning to understand the true nature
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