About 80 km southwest of Antalya, near the town of Çıralı in southwestern Turkey, lies a rocky mountain that’s been literally on fire for thousands of years. About a dozen flames burn on the side of the mountain fueled by methane gas that issue through the vents. The fires called Yanartaş in Turkish, have been burning for at least 2500 years. The vents represent the biggest emission of abiogenic methane discovered on land so far.
For hundreds of years, sailors could see the flames from sea and used them as a landmark to navigate, but today they are more often used by hikers to brew tea. These flames, according to some ancient literature, gave birth to the myth of the Chimera, a fire breathing mythical beast with the body and head of a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ended in a snake's head.
The fires are grouped over an area of 5,000 square meters and are fueled by gas emissions consisting mostly of methane and hydrogen, both of which are inflammable. The flames are more vigorous in winter months, a common characteristic of such seeps, where gas flux is typically modulated by gas pressure build-up induced by groundwater recharge and changes in atmospheric pressure. The fires burn constantly, unlike the Eternal Flame Falls that needs to be lighted.
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