Yanartaş (flaming rock) is the Turkish name of a geographical feature near the Olympos valley and national park in Antalya Province in southwestern Turkey. The location is 80 km southwest of Antalya, near the town of Çıralı. It is generally believed to be the ancient Mount Chimaera. The area is located on a track popular with hikers and trekkers on the Lycian Way.
It is the site of dozens of small fires which burn constantly from vents in the rocks on the side of the mountain. Directly below the fires are the ruins of the temple of Hephaistos, the Greek god who was associated with fire through his role as the blacksmith to the gods. To see the fires and the ruins, visitors must first go to the entrance at the foot of the mountain, where they pay an admission of 4TL. The site is at the top of a one kilometre climb. This is basically a rock stairway and is easily managed. Most people visit at night, when the fires are at their most spectacular. You need to bring your own torch to find your way up the stairs in the dark.
The fires are grouped over an area of 5000 m2 and are fueled by gas emissions which have been burning for at least 2500 years. These emissions seem to change seasonally: vents and flames are more vigorous in winter months. This is 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 vents emit mainly methane (87%). The rest is made of hydrogen (7.5-11%), nitrogen (2-4.9 %), light alkanes (0.57%), carbon dioxide (0.01-0.07 %) and helium (80 ppmv). These proportions and the isotopic composition indicates a mix from 2 origins, in equal part:
- an organic thermogenic gas, related to type III kerogen occurring in Palaeozoic and Mesozoic organic-rich sedimentary rocks,
- an abiogenic gas produced by low-temperature serpentinization in the Tekirova ophiolitic unit.
These vents represent the biggest emission of abiogenic methane discovered on land so far. Methane is not related to mantle or magma degassing, which excludes the phenomena occurring at Yanartaş be of volcanic cause.
In ancient times sailors could navigate by the flames, but today they are more often used to brew tea.
The site was identified as the ancient Mount Chimaera by Sir Francis Beaufort in 1811, and described by T.A.B.Spratt in his Travels in Lycia, Milyas, and the Cibyratis, in company with the late Rev. E. T. Daniell. The discussion on the connection between the myth and the exact location of Chimera was started by Forbiger in 1844, and the George E. Bean was of the opinion that the name was allochtonous and could have been transferred here from its original location further west, as cited by Strabo, owing to the presence of the same phenomenon and the fires.
Yanartaş is also the title of a 1970 novel by the Turkish novelist Mehmet Seyda. It is not associated with this location.
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- Hosgormez, H.; Etiope, G.; Yalçin, M. N. (november 2008). "New evidence for a mixed inorganic and organic origin of the Olympic Chimaera fire (Turkey): a large onshore seepage of abiogenic gas". Geofluids 8 (4): 263–273. doi:10.1111/j.1468-8123.2008.00226.x. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- A.M. Celal Sengör (2003). The Large Wavelength Deformations in the Lithosphere: Materials for a History of the Evolution of Thought from the Earliest Times to Plate Techtonics p. 310 Endnotes ISBN 0-8137-1196-7. Geological Society of America.
- George E. Bean (1978). Lycian Turkey ISBN 0-510-03205-2. Ernest Benn, London.