A video captured in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk appearing to show molten lava spewing from the ground underneath a house has gone viral recently, prompting speculation online that a "small volcano" had emerged.

However, Ali Adel, a local volcano specialist told Al-Sumaria News after a visit to the site that the molten sand was actually caused by "the combustion of an electric cable buried under the ground".

While this may seem implausible, electrical fires and arcing can reach temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the sandy material beneath the house is likely quartz-rich and could be mixed with calcite - which is common in the area - meaning it would have a melting point of between 1000 and 1500C.

It is possible that an underground fire caused by electricity and perhaps exacerbated by other combustibles, could have produced the sustained necessary heat to melt the sandy material, producing the "mini volcano".

A geologic "mini volcano" like the video purports to show is not really feasible in the area because there would need to be large quantities of molten rock underground to sustain it.

Kirkuk, known for its oil fields, is not a volcanically active area, although Iraq does have a number of extinct volcanoes. The nearest region with potentially active volcanoes is northern Iran.

Subterranean fires related to hydrocarbons do occur but they usually require coal not oil and do not burn at a sufficient heat to melt sand or rock.

Adel said officials had been notified of the damage.