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June 11, 2008

Sidoarjo's Man-made Mud Volcano

On the two-year anniversary of its eruption, international scientists say they are almost certain a mud volcano that displaced tens of thousands of villagers in central Indonesia was caused by faulty drilling of a gas exploration well - not an earthquake as claimed by the gas company. "We are more certain than ever that the Lusi mud volcano is an unnatural disaster and was triggered by drilling" said Richard Davies, lead author of a study published this week in the academic journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Two years ago now, on 28 May 2006, gas company PT Lapindo Brantas exploring for gas in Sidoarjo, in East Java, Indonesia, drilled a borehole. At 5 AM, a secondary stage of drilling began and the drill string went about 9,300 feet down, after which the first small eruption of water, steam and a small amount of gas occurred at a location just southwest of the well. Several other eruptions followed over the next few days. The flow of hot mud has not ceased since.

Fourteen people have been killed and 30,000 people have been evacuated from the area. At least a dozen villages, with more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed while schools, offices and factories have also been wiped out and a major impact on the wider marine and coastal environment is expected. (11 photos total)


A villager displaced by an ocean of mud oozing from a mud volcano which began erupting nearly two years ago salvages bricks from the ruins of a village Thursday, May 29, 2008 in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. For two years a hole in the earth has been oozing enough mud to fill 50 olympic size swimming pools every day and has covered villages and factories roof deep in mud and forced the evacuation of thousands.(AP Photo/Trisnadi)


An aerial view of houses flooded by hot mud from the crater of a mud volcano in Porong, East Java province May 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

An aerial view of the gas emission from the crater of a mud volcano in Porong, East Java province May 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

A villager collects bricks from his ruined village, flooded by mud flows from a mud volcano in Porong, East Java province May 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

Villagers collect bricks from their ruined village, flooded by mud flows from a mud volcano in Porong, East Java province May 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

Victims of Indonesia's "mud volcano" throw flower petals on the mud covered land which used to be their village in Sidoarjo East Java on May 29, 2008. (AFP)

Satellite picture received from Ikonos Satellite Image on May 29, 2008 shows the mud volcano and its surrounding area in Sidoarjo, East Java. (AFP/Ikonos Satellite Image)

Picture taken from a helicopter shows maintenance work ongoing near the the caldera of the mud volcano in Sidoarjo, East Java. (AFP)

The remnants of a village sit in a muddy lake formed by oozing mud from a volcano which began erupting nearly 2 years ago Wednesday, May 28, 2008 in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

A villager collects bricks from his ruined village, flooded by mud flows from a mud volcano in Porong, East Java province May 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

The roof of a destroyed building, formerly one of the tallest in the village is seen rising above the dried mud that now covers all traces of its former neighborhood, near the volcano in Sidoarjo, East Java on May 27, 2008. (AFP)

More links and information:
Scientists blame drilling for Indonesia mud flow - msnbc.com
Sidoarjo Mud Flow Wikipedia entry
Google map
Disaster of Lapindo mud photo set on Flickr

 
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