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How is thermal mud formed?

Being surrounded daily by boiling mud pools we wondered how this ‘magic of the earth’ is actually formed. Below is a short explanation.  

Mud pools are formed in high-temperature geothermal places where steam and gas rise from underground into rainwater ponds. These gasses are acidic and attack surface rocks, transforming them into clay. The clay mixes with the heated pond water into a slurry “steam–heated” mess which is thermal mud. The steam and gasses rising up from the earth heat the mud and make our famous bubbling, boiling and popping mud pools.

The gasses usually have hydrogen sulphide gas present; giving mud pools their distinctive odour of rotten eggs (a familiar smell for anyone that ever visited Rotorua).

On a rainy day a mud pool looks quite different than when the weather has been dry. In dry conditions the mud is thick and sticky with some small “mini volcanoes”, while the mud is much more fluid when it rains, looking more like dark boiling water.

Mud pools are often found in thermal areas near a volcano, it doesn’t matter if the volcano is active or not. The soil in these areas is rich in volcanic ash, clay and other fine parts of organic matter that when mixed with thermal water, create that unique mud that is so great for human skin.

The mud is often harvested from long-extinct mud pools.  The specific minerals and trace elements found in thermal mud will vary depending on each geographic location. The exact composition of a particular mud depends on whether the volcano is located in New Zealand, Hawaii, Italy, Japan or other volcanic regions around the world.

Rotorua Thermal Mud is famous for its deep cleansing, de-toxifying and relaxing properties. It can absorb oils and dirt from the skin and then fill the skin with the minerals that are formed in the soil. Our skin loves a bit of dirt!

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