The Sidoarjo Mud Flow

Tuesday, 6th November 2007 by

This is the Sidoarjo Mud Flow, a massive eruption of gas and hot torrential mud in East Java, Indonesia.

Despite a network of dams and barriers having been erected to contain the flood, as of February 2007 the mud was up to 10 m thick, with an estimated volume of 12 million cubic metres. The enormous quantity of mud has so far buried 4 villages and 25 factories, some of which you can see here, barely protruding above the surface.

Although the mud flow is one of many Mud Volcanoes found worldwide, this particularly devastating eruption is actually the result of nearby gas exploration. The drilling activity evidently triggered an "underground blow out" which apparently could have been prevented if the proper safety procedures had been observed.

The oil and gas exploration company deemed culpable for this, one of Indonesia's worst ever industrial disasters, will be responsible for financing the repairs and compensating the victims (if they don't manage to weasel out of it that is). Additionally, thirteen executives and engineers now face criminal charges.

Various ideas have been posited that might staunch the flow of mud (or alternatively put it to some use), however so far, all attempts to stop it have failed. Have a look at this photo from a couple of weeks ago1 to see how much further the mud has spread - and it's believed that it will keep flowing for years to come.

Read more at Wikipedia. Thanks to Adrian.

  1. You can also view the image within Google Earth by loading this placemark↩︎