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The Mud Volcano of Sidoarjo

The mud volcanoes.

Sidoarjo Mud 01

Mud volcanoes are not extraordinary, they are about a thousand located in several volcanic areas in the world (i.e.: Borders of the Black sea and Caspian sea in Eastern Europe, Azerbaijan, Yellowstone National Park, …). Indonesian islands, which are definitively on one of the most highly active area in the world, are not escaping to this volcanic phenomenon. But there are still some questions on the origin of the event which appeared on May 2006, in the regency of Sidoarjo, on the North East coast of Java, 35 kilometers away from Surabaya, the second largest city of Indonesia. Gas and hot mud started spewing from a well, following the drilling by Lapindo Brantas, an oil well company. Attempts to pump concrete down the well did not stop the flow.

Bromo 01
View of the site of "Lusi".

Natural or Human disaster?

To explain the mud eruption some scientists have speculated that the earthquake of Yogyakarta on May 27, 2006 (see News) the day before the well erupted, may have cracked the ground, creating potential pathways for the mud to reach the surface, but others have suggested that the drilling procedure was faulty by not using a casing around the well. From an initial 5,000 cubic meters per day of hot mud flew every day, the spur had reached a pick of 150,000 cubic meters as per January 2007. On September 2006 barriers started to be built to hold back the mud but failed, resulting in the flooding of more villages. Since the beginning of the event, more than 10,000 people in the Porong sub district have been displaced by the hot mud flowing.

Sidoarjo Mud volcano Cone

The volcano named Lusi has still a long life ahead

This Sidoarjo mud flow or Lapindo mud, also informally abbreviated as Lusi, a contraction of Lumpur Sidoarjo (lumpur is the Indonesian word for mud), seems to continue indefinitely as so far all efforts to stem the flow have failed. Some scientists are saying that the eruption may be a mud volcano forming, and may be impossible to stop.

Sidoarjo Mud Volcano 05
View of some flooded houses in the Porong sub-district.
Photo from Trisnadi (AP)


Mudflow bubble in Sidoarjo explodes

From "The Jakarta Post" ,  Jakarta   |  Tue, 08/19/2008 7:44 PM 

One of the many gas bubbles in the mud flowing in Sidoarjo, East Java, exploded Tuesday. No casualties were reported.
Antara reported that a three-meter-high fire sprouted from a gas bubble near Jl. Flamboyan, Siring Barat village.

The last time the same bubble exploded was last May, when the explosion was sparked by a cigarette butt. At the time, one person suffered burn injuries. The Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS) sent three fire extinguishers to the scene to stop the fire, but locals rejected them.

Local neighborhood chief Bambang told Antara that villagers rejected the extinguishers to show political leaders in Jakarta how dangerous the mudflow is.
"If the fire is put out, we are worried the BPLS will report to the central government that the situation in Siring is safe," he said.

He also said people in Siring were now restless because there were many potentially dangerous gas bubbles emerging in their village. Dozens of similar bubbles have been recorded.
During the event, the people held Ahmad ZUlkarnain from BPLS hostage, but the police soon intervened and freed him.
Jalaludin Alham from the mudflow special committee at the Sidoarjo legislative council said that the government should pay special attention to the emergence of gas bubbles in Siring and other villages.
He called on BPLS to evacuate people from Siring, as the village had become unlivable. "This condition is dangerous. The government has to decide that Siring Barat is not livable anymore. We shouldn't need to wait for victims to fall," Jalaludin said.

July 2009: Tourist to visit the Mud Volcano

Tourist to Mud Volcano

Bledug Kuwu in Grobogan, Central Java, has been a tourist destination for decades. For local people, bledug means explosion and kuwu or kuwur means scattered.

People visit the site to watch the mud volcano, which erupts every three minutes, resulting in beautiful formations. Located several minutes by car from Blok Cepu mining site, Bledug Kuwu is somehow identical to the mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java. If Sidoarjo's mudflow has displaced nearby residents and brought misery to the people, Bledug Kuwu has helped local people earn money.

People living near this tourism site make money by selling salt to visitors. The salt is harvested from volcanic sediment that is dried in an open field. Legend has it that the explosion comes from a tunnel that connects the site to the mystical "Laut Selatan" or Indian Ocean. The tunnel is a passage for a mystical knight, Joko Linglung, and allows him to move between Laut Selatan and the Medang Kamulan Kingdom, the area of which includes today's Grobogan. Joko Linglung made the passage when he transformed into a huge dragon to demonstrate his supernatural powers to Aji Saka, the king of Medang Kamulan.
from The Jakarta Post. Photos by Tarko Sudiarno

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