Mud volcano on Java triggered by gas exploration drilling say researchers.

An interesting report by British, American, Indonesian and Australian scientists, published this week in the academic journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters found that a mud volcano named Lusi, that has been causing damage on the island of Java, was triggered by the drilling of a gas exploration well.

It is still releasing boiling mud and has been the cause of displacing more than 30,000 people and millions of dollars in damage. The new research is the most detailed scientific analysis to date and disproves the theory that an earthquake that happened two-days before the mud volcano erupted in East Java, Indonesia, was potentially to blame.

In the Durham University press release lead author Prof Davies of Durham University reported :

“We are more certain than ever that the Lusi mud volcano is an unnatural disaster and was triggered by drilling the Banjar-Panji-1 well.”

Essentially the research shows that

“the day before the mud volcano started there was a huge ‘kick’ in the well, which is an influx of fluid and gas into the wellbore. We show that after the kick the pressure in the well went beyond a critical level.This resulted in the leakage of the fluid from the well and the rock formations to the surface – a so called ‘underground blowout’. This fluid picked up mud during its accent and Lusi was born.”

Prof Davies said chances of controlling this pressure would have been increased if there was more protective casing in the borehole.

Prof Manga of Berkely added : While this is a most unfortunate disaster, it will leave us with a better understanding of the birth, life and death of a volcano.”

Lusi is still flowing at 100,000 cubic metres per day, enough to fill 53 Olympic swimming pools.

Recent research which Prof Davies was involved in showed it is collapsing by up to three metres overnight and could subside to depths of more than 140 metres, having a significant environmental impact on the surrounding area for years to come.

This is an example of what can unexpectedly go wrong in the chase for new sources of energy and shows that greater oversight of drilling needs to happen in the current climate where high profits may push projects ahead before adequate impact assesments and precautions have taken place.


Beaufort Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Beaufort Island is located immediately north of Ross Island and is the home of an Adelie penguin colony.

Beaufort Island.

Photograph by: Josh Landis, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: 1999.


~ by abstraktbiblos on Sunday, 15 June, 2008.

One Response to “Mud volcano on Java triggered by gas exploration drilling say researchers.”

  1. […] As discussed in my post of June, 17, there would be no short term benefits to the consumer here and the damage done and species lost would be for all time. History points to the dangers. The potential for oil spills and their effect on the environment and the communities that live in these areas will be increased. The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 is still not fully resolved before the courts. There could also be unexpected outcomes like the mud volcano on Java triggered by drilling for gas. (See my post of June 15) […]

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