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What caused the LUSI mud volcano eruption?

14.10.2008
Two competing theories about the cause of a massive mud volcano eruption in Indonesia will be debated next week, in a special session at a conference held at the Geological Society, London (Note 1).

The mud volcano, dubbed LUSI, has been continuously erupting since May 2006, when water, steam and gas at 100 degrees broke through the surface in the village of Sidoarjo in East Java. Approximately 50,000 cubic metres of toxic mud are deposited every day, with mud flows spreading over 7.0 square kilometres. The result has so far been the displacement of around 30,000 people, and damage costing nearly 11 million Rupiah.

Experts are divided over the cause of the eruption, and whether it may have been a man made disaster. The eruption began just 150 metres away from the head of a hydrocarbon exploration well, and early reports favoured the theory that the nearby drilling activity may have triggered the eruption.

Others support the idea that an earthquake of magnitude 6.3, which hit the south coast of Java just two days before the LUSI eruption began, cannot be mere coincidence. Killing more people than the eruption – over 6200 – and displacing 1.5 million, the earthquake is regarded by some as a likely trigger for the mud volcano’s eruption.

Advocates of both sides of the debate will discuss the issue as part of a two day conference (Note 2) on fluid flow in sedimentary basins, convened by the Geological Society of London’s Petroleum Group. The section of the conference dealing with LUSI will take place from 1700 – 1920 on Tuesday October 21. A news conference featuring speakers from that session will be held at the Geological Society at 1100 on Monday October 20.

The programme for the conference will be:

•1700 Michael Manga (University of California, Berkeley) Did an earthquake trigger the eruption of the Lusi mud volcano?
•1720 Richard Davies (University of Durham) Triggering of the Lusi mud eruption
•1740 Mark Tingay (University of Adelaide) Triggering of the Lusi mud eruption: earthquakes vs drilling initiation
•1800 Richard Swarbrick (Geopressure Technology) Estimating the longevity of the Lusi mud volcano
•1820 Bambang Istadi (Energi Mega Persada) Analysis & recent study results on East Java mud volcano

•1840 Adriano Mazzini (University of Oslo) Keynote: Causes and triggers of the Lusi mud volcano, Indonesia

1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body, of almost 10,000 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.

2. Subsurface sediment remobilization and fluid flow in sedimentary basins is a two day conference to be held at the Geological Society on 21 – 22 October. For more information, go to http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/groups/specialist/petroleum/page1322.html

3. Speaker contacts: Contact Details:
•Manga - manga@seismo.berkeley.edu;
•Tingay - M.Tingay@curtin.edu.au;
•Swarbrick - r.e.swarbrick@geopressure.co.uk;
•Istadi - bambang.istadi@energi-mp.com;
•Davies - richard.davies@dur.ac.uk T: 44 (0)787 1551 682;
•Mazzini - adriano.mazzini@fys.uio.no.
4. For more information about LUSI mud volcano, see http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/geoscientist/features/page3693.html

Sarah Day | alfa
Further information:
http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/groups/specialist/petroleum/page1322.html

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