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The Tylicz mofetta is located on the grounds of the Domki w Lesie (‘Houses in Forest’) tourist village. Open to visitors only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 9.00 a.m. till 4.00 p.m.

Mofetta is a volcanic gasses discharge (chiefly carbon dioxide with small amounts of other gasses). The Tylicz mofetta is confined within eleven concrete well rings, each ca. 1 m across and 1 m deep. It has over 50 gas discharge points underwater and on dry soil, named in Polish after the sounds they produce. The underwater ones are called ‘bulgotka’ (literally: bubbler) and the dry ones are called ‘dychawka’ (lit: panters, from ‘dyszeć’ = ‘to pant’). Bubblers look like boiling muddy soup, while panters are just vents from which gas spreads with a quiet hiss. The local folk (mainly Lemkos) viewed mofettas as places where the hell breathed out, and they had some justification for that. Water which looks like it is boiling and is cold at the same time does not seem natural. In addition, the carbon dioxide gas is heavier than air, so on windless days it accumulates in hollows in the ground. As it is lethal, you can see dead insects and small animals by the mofettes. Reportedly water in each of the well rings differs slightly in taste.

It is surprising to get to know that the Tylicz mofetta was to play its part in the cold war space race. When the US and the Soviet Union fought the race, one of the problems they had was ensuring food for astronauts during long missions. One of the ideas to do that was to farm edible algae in the outer space, using photosynthesis and carbon dioxide which is breathed out by the crew. For this reason in the 1960’s in Tylicz the communist government set up a research facility which was to examine the possibility of producing algae using natural carbon dioxide sources. Officially, the algae was to be used as fodder for farm animals. Carbon dioxide discharge points were confined with concrete well rings, above which the gas was being caught and transported through pipes to containers where algae were being grown. The programme resulted in an edible product which, however, was rather useless and had unpleasant aftereffects when eaten. Reportedly it caused diarrhoea. There was an official release saying that algae were no good for fodder, so the facility was closed and the mofetta was filled up with soil. It was only in 2011 that thanks to EU funds it was uncovered and made available to tourists.

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