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)