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Jun 16, 2021

Is it Fire? A Volcanic Eruption? Meteor? Or Steam Vent—Speculation Abounds over the Sleeping Giant Plume

Social media has been abuzz with theories of what is happening in the mountains. Some speculate it is volcanic activity, while others say it is a meteorite that struck in the area. Today, personnel from the Geology and Petroleum Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources were out at a farm on the Hummingbird Highway to witness the smoke billowing in the distance in the area known as the Sleeping Giant in the Maya Mountains. But the trek to the location several miles from the highway is treacherous and will take up to six hours to get there, so the team, headed by Director Andre Cho, will go back to the office and collaborate with other departments to plan an expedition to the area. News Five was able to get aerial footage of the area. Here is that report from Duane Moody.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Via drone, the billowing smoke is located some eight thousand two hundred feet from the Hummingbird Highway, near the Rancho de la Lomas farm. But it can be seen from a distance – substantial smoke coming through the canopy of the thick lush forest of the Maya Mountains. It started on Saturday and has been smoking ever since.


Dr. Geoffrey Frankson, Resident, Rancho de la Lomas Farm

“My sister was here on Saturday and noticed the steam coming out of the ground. We thought it was just some clouds – there are always clouds coming out of the ground here – and didn’t pay it much mind until we realised that the rest of the clouds had gone and the steam was coming from one particular spot and really quite white.”


A report that it may be a fire was ruled out because it has continued despite the recent rains.


Geoffrey Frankson

Dr. Geoffrey Frankson

“So I thought well okay, maybe it is a hot spring, but that didn’t quite figure because it is high up in the mountains. That only left steam – nothing else it could be. So what is causing the steam is the problem and that would have to be hot rocks of some kind with water falling on the rocks and coming up as steam. So something is either heating up the rocks from below or the water is filtering down to the hot rocks and coming back up as steam. And I expect that is what the geologists will have to establish.”


Doctor Geoffrey Frankson has been living at the farm for two years, but this was the first time he had witnessed something like this. The Department of Geology was called to investigate and today, they visited the area. Due to the terrain, a trek to the area had to be rescheduled for a later date. However, a number of residents from the area made the trip earlier this week and documented the experience.


Voice of: Resident [Translated]

“You can observe this. We have arrived to the exact point so that you can see. Wow, the heat is burning my feet. You can see the Sibun River over there. Here we walk in a dangerous terrain. Look there is the river. You can see this stone, look how strange it is cut. It is not known, but like it come out as from God.”


Dr. Geoffrey Frankson

“One of the workers here had been up there. He had seen the steam before and he is very familiar with the hills so they had been up and he called me and said he wanted to tell me what he had seen. And we discussed it and I then called Mister Andre Cho with a friend of mine to find out more about what he thought was happening.”


Duane Moody

“Let’s talk about what your farmhand said he saw.”


Dr. Geoffrey Frankson

“Well he saw trees had been burnt, but not with fire. The area was obviously very hot so he stayed a safe distance away. But from where he was, he could see that there was a lot of heat and the steam coming virtually from out of the ground from where he could stand. He couldn’t quite figure out what it was which is when he decided he would come and talk to me about it.”


There is no information at this time to suggest any sort of volcanic activity and an expedition to the area is being scheduled in the days ahead. After doing some online searching, Doctor Frankson believes that it is a steam vent.


Dr. Geoffrey Frankson

“Well I looked up steam vents because I assume that’s what it was – I still think that’s what they’ll find – and they said yes, that’s what happens when you get a crack in the ground and water seeps down to hot rocks below. If the mantel is thin enough, it might be as far as the magma itself, but in any case, it’s a lot of heat down there. When water seeps down there and meets enough heat, it will evaporate and turn to steam and come back up. But it is not under pressure so there won’t be a geyser which is what you get in places like the Yellowstone Park in the states and so on. So this is just steam coming back up from hot rocks. This is not a volcanic area, there are no volcanoes around here; this is not volcanic soil – none of these mountains are volcanic. The mantel is thick, Mister Cho tells me, and a thick mantel means that you are not going to get any eruption. So there is not going to be an eruption of lava; there is not going to be a volcano.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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