The Davis-Schrimpf seep field is located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Palm Springs, Calif., at an elevation of 230 feet (70 meters) below sea level. Here, carbon dioxide gases gurgle to the surface as a result of a magma zone found 1 mile (1.6 km) below the Earth's surface cooking the gas from carbonate minerals.
Over 50 mud volcanic features are found in this seep field, including gryphons, gas vents, salses, mudpots and springs all located within a 2-square-mile (5-square-km) area.
Gryphons are small earthen mounds built by the eruptions of the mud volcanoes. The fluids that create the gryphons are powered by hydrothermal carbon dioxide gas mixed with near-surface brines and are merely warm to the touch rather than hot.
The viscosity of the mud extruding from a specific mud volcanic vent will help determine the height that each gryphon grows to. The amount of escaping carbon dioxide gas also influences the erupting power of the mixture and thus how high the small mountain of mud will grow.
A salse is a water-dominated pool with seeping and gurgling bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. This pool is about 20 feet (6 m) across. The water found in a salse is salty brine with small amounts of dissolved minerals, black petroleum and a variety of algae.
Some mud volcanoes actually form pits and are referred to as a "spring" in mud volcano terminology and as "mudpots" by lay visitors who come to visit this unique site. Most pits are between 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) in depth and 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 cm) across.
The term "mud" is an actual geological term and refers to any sediment made from a mixture in the silt and clay size range of soil particles.
In some parts of the Davis-Schrimpf seep field the warm water from the mud volcanoes is so salty that the ground is covered with white salt crystals and crunches when walked upon like frozen snow.
Some of these southern California mudpots are gray in color while others are a rich shade of reddish brown. Here in the San Andreas Rift Valley , these amazing geothermal features gurgle, burp and croak as thousands of cars rush by them on nearby highways. Listen to the natural sounds of a Davis-Schrimpf seep field mudpot in this video.
Gryphons, salses, springs and small mudpots are all found within a few feet of each other creating an out-of-this-world scene on the ancient Imperial Valley floor while producing a symphony of natural sounds similar to a desert gathering of gigantic mud bullfrogs.
A short distance away from the active field of mud volcanoes, another group of mudpots have mysteriously gone dry, awaiting the powerful forces from beneath the earth to once again bring back the bubbling, warm waters.
But the magical nature of the Davis-Schrimpf seep field appears once again just a short 0.5 mile (0.8 km) from the dried field as a giant spring gushes to the surface and creates the illusion of a small, warm-water geothermal mud-pond.