Friday, February 25, 2011

Lusi mud volcano

I had never heard of such a thing until this morning when I read that a mud volcano in Indonesia (video here) may continue erupting for the next quarter-century! Mud volcanoes spew water (usually acidic or salty), hydrocarbon fluids, methane gas, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and fine solids suspended in slurry that is at a much lower temperature than igneous lava. The eruption of the Lusi mud volcano in East Java, which began in 2006, is thought to be the result of a nearby gas exploration well changing the pressure underground (although it may also have been caused by a documented earthquake in the area). As much as 100,000 cubic meters of mud has flowed from Lusi (pictured) every day. More than 30,000 people have been forced from their homes, and thousands of structures have been destroyed. It has now covered an area of almost 3 sq. miles to a depth of 65', despite attempts to rein it in and pump it out. In this satellite image captured in 2009, the mudflow is contained within the rectangular area in the center by constructed walls, outside of which is vegetation (which appears red), water including the Kali Porong River (which appears silver), and shrimp farms (the white squares to the right). There are other mud volcanoes in Asia and around the world, including more than 80 in Pakistan, but none this big.

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