The mud volcano Sidoarjo

The mud volcano Sidoarjo

The mud volcano Sidoarjo
is the world biggest mud volcano

The location is in East Java, Indonesia. In the Indonesian language, the name of the mud volcano Sidoarjo is  “Lumpur Sidoarjo”. LUSI a contracted word which combines two single words. The name LUSI made up of the first two letters of the Indonesian words Lumpur and Sidoarjo.

Lumpur mean in Indonesian mud and Sidoarjo is a city south of Surabaya. Sidoarjo locates close to the location where the mud volcano occurred in 2006. Naturel mud volcanos are common on Earth but LUSI is special. In fact, it is not clear whether it is a manmade or a natural occurrence. However, this area locates close to very active volcanos like Mt Bromo.

There are several theories about why the mud volcano Sidoarjo occurred. Some say the disaster is manmade. Others say it’s a natural occurrence. So far the mud blowout occurred during an oil exploration close to the today’s mud spring.

One opinion says that an earthquake probably might be the reason. While other opinions say that a mistake during the oil exploration led to the catastrophe. No matter it is a huge tragedy for all the people who live in this area. Since the beginning, all measure to stop the mudflow failed until today (2016).

All lost around the mud volcano Sidoarjo

LUSI is not like a real volcano spying ash and lava. A continuous flow of hot water, gases, steam and mud swapped over a huge area. As a result, the mud destroyed roads, high voltage transmission lines, villages and farmland. Not only that, many people lost their properties and homeland.

The tragedy has a name, the name is LUSI and it is ten years old. Finally, thousands of people lost their homes and had to move to other places.

Despite all other measures the local government immediately erected a dam around the mud spring. The dam prevents the further expansion of the mud. About 15 m high the dam surrounds the mud spring and shapes a huge pool. Obviously, it needs irrigation measures to avoid the overflow of the pool. The excess water conduct into a nearby river. With simple machinery workers maintain the water level into the pool.  Although, measures taken by the local government to control the disaster didn’t stop the mudflow. Until today the mudflow still continues. Moreover, scientists expect that the flow will continue for a long time villagers tell us.

Everywhere is mud

After all, locals try to make some money and guide visitors on the dam around the mud volcano Sidoarjo. I would also like to share our part with the villagers and take a guide for some money. I take a ride by motorcycle on the dam and get an impression of how huge the area is real. My guide brings me to an observation tower.

From the top of the tower, I get a comprehensive overview of the disaster. The tower is very close to the mud source. It stinks like hell. It is a strong smell of sulphur and hydrocarbons and whatever.

From afar I see the white steam cloud ascend. That is the source of the mud volcano Sidoarjo. Around here all the mud has piled up over a huge area where only the dams stop it. The mud seems to us is consists of a loamy soil. Where the mud dries, it becomes hard as a rock.

The typical cracked pattern of the surface we know very well from salt lakes. But where wet by rain the mud turns into slippery sludge. The colour varies widely between brown and grey. Probably also depend on the colour of sunlight. After half an hour I can feel a slight headache from the stink. This is the signal that it is time for me to leave this place.

Even if the mudflow has subsided the last time nevertheless the damages are irreparable. The local people will never be able to return to their homes. Nevertheless, my impressions are so deep by the natural forces. But I can see how powerless the human being is against such tragedy. However, it’s a deep impact on the environment. It is a tragedy to the people which lost their homes evenmore.

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