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Trinidad and Tobago

Piparo Mud Volcano

The site of a devastating modern-day mud volcano eruption that buried parts of a village. 

Piparo is a village in Trinidad On the southern edge of Trinidad’s Central Range lies the small village of Piparo, which boasts a few claims to fame: first, it was where calypso legend Ras Shorty chose to retire; second, it had been the base of operations for notorious drug lord Dole Chadee until his 1999 execution; lastly, and of utmost import, the village of Piparo was the site of a bizarre, hugely destructive mud volcano eruption that took place on February 22, 1997.

Thanks to tremors and rumbling that gave precious little warning of the devastating eruption to come, villagers were able to flee at the last minute before magmatic mud flooded their homes from floor to ceiling. Cars and homes were buried under a square mile of mud that quickly hardened into a concrete-like clay. Though no one was killed, 31 families were permanently displaced from their homes.

Since that fateful day, an alternate route to Piparo was established through nearby Guaracara, and the original mud volcano now lies inactive at the site of the 1997 eruption. The remnants of destroyed houses, roads to nowhere, and general mayhem are still visible to this day.

Piparo’s mud volcano eruption is no isolated case in Trinidad. Though much more rare than their appearance on land, mud volcanoes also formed temporary islands off Trinidad in 1964 and 2001. Moreover, approximately 15 other mud volcanoes also exist in the area, making a tour of these fascinating and rare geological formations a great reminder of the weird ways nature continues to unexpectedly reassert mastery over her tenants.