Sidoarjo Mudflow

Feb 22nd, 2007, in News, by

The mud in Sidoarjo is still flowing while some say nature is to blame.

The mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java, which started nine months ago and has swallowed five villages and left thousands homeless, shows no signs of stopping. A visiting geology expert from Kyoto University in Japan, James Mori, says he can’t be certain when the mud will stop gushing out. Something that would stop it, he said, was hydrostatic equilibrium, which sounds like something that doesn’t come along too often. If hydrostatic equilibrium did not occur Mori puts his faith in Indonesian ingenuity: tempo

Perhaps, some brilliant people in Indonesia will be able to [stop the flow].

James was in the country to attend an international geological workshop in Jakarta, February 20th-21st, in which the issue of the Lapindo mudflow disaster was the focus of discussions. The consensus view of the assembled experts, according to Professor Said D. Jenie, head of BPPT (Board for the Study and Application of Technology), was that the disaster is a natural phenomenon, an eruption of a mud volcano at a depth of between 1-2 km’s below the surface of the earth.

Sidoarjo Mudflow
Sidoarjo Mudflow.

The mud exploded as a result of tectonic activities and geological matters related to geohydrology and geothermal power, said Jenie. Given these facts Jenie said the government should declare the calamity a natural disaster and the handling of it should be done by the state.

Another expert, Dr Edy Sunardi, said the land at the site was unusually tectonically sensitive because sedimentation there takes place within a very short time so that there is no compactness and elasticity.

He also said there was a link in space and time between the Yogyakarta earthquake of 27th May and the Sidoarjo hot mud explosion two days later. bip

Another expert, Dr Yusuf Surachman Djajadihardja, ploughed in as well, saying the hot mud case is a rare natural phenomenon, a combination of tectonics and (oil) drilling. Although he did mention the question of Lapindo Brantas‘ oil drilling at the site he said no-one could know which was to blame, the drilling, or the tectonic sensitivity.

We cannot say who is responsible when two things take place at the same time.

Meanwhile, on the question of what to do with all the mud, Said D.Jenie said people were the most important thing to consider, and the mud should be diverted into the Porong river and the sea. If marine life were damaged due to this it was unfortunate, but it was the best solution. bip


February 23rd 2007.

British volcanologist Richard Davies, a mud volcano specialist and professor at Durham University, disputes the conclusion of the conference that the Sidoarjo mud disaster was caused by tectonic forces.

It’s unfortunate that the government concludes the mud disaster in Sidoarjo is a natural phenomenon.

He said drilling activities by Lapindo Brantas Inc. were the likeliest cause of the massive outpouring of mud.

The chance that the mud erupted because of the drilling activities is 90%. I feel quite strongly about this.

Davies said that the chance of the mud volcano being triggered by the earthquake in Yogyakarta was 1 or 2%, while the chance that both the drilling activities and the earthquake played a role was 8%.

Davies was not invited as a speaker but attended part of the BPPT conference.

He said any efforts to stop or curb the mudflow would be highly dangerous. He added that the system of mud walls built by the national mudflow response team to control the sludge also posed a threat. Hands off, he advised:

People should just leave the (mud volcano) alone. The embankment is dangerous. If it collapses, it could create an intense hazard.

The latest plan to drop chains of concrete balls inside the main geyser to slow down the spewing mud is an interesting experiment. But again it’s unlikely to work.


March 6th 2007.

The head of the Geologists Alliance of Indonesia (IAGI) of 1973-1975, Koesoemadinata, has protested the result of the international workshop on the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java.

In an email Koesoemadinata said that the resolution of the workshop was erroneous and did not show IAGI to be an independent body. He said that even while speakers were still discussing various possibilities that caused the mudflow the workshop was hastily concluded, with the statement that the cause of the mudflow was an earthquake. tempo

45 Comments on “Sidoarjo Mudflow”

  1. David Daniel Luthen says:

    Yup, i agree with you, mr van den Berg !
    Someone should start to trace it’s origin ! As i’ve been there on June’15th i was suprised to see how few changes have been done during the last two month ! It seemed to me that authorities waiting for a miractle, instead of taking drastic measures. Yes, people on the POA are doing a great job there .. but they fight a war they can not win !! Eventhough experts from all around the world have been explored the event .. only few differences did it make until date ! And that’s not because there is nothing that can be done at all .. it is because of Indonesian politics !! Sitting there, just thinking & discussing matters and looking very busy will not help anybody.. and by the way .. Indonesians authorities with power to take are unlikely to give from their own expences in the first place, as we all know !!
    I’m feeling sorry for this wonderfull country .. this could be become just another example why Indonesians never getting things done best. Impossible that this problem of mudflow is not to be solved .. !! To say it in short .. there are always profiteers !!

  2. mingo says:

    If hydrostatic equilibrium did not occur Mori puts his faith in Indonesian ingenuity: [1]

    Perhaps, some brilliant people in Indonesia will be able to [stop the flow].

    And it will be like this, Now let us all pray.

  3. Jokoboyo says:

    It is our fate, one day east java will be devided into 2, it maybe the God’s willing to seperate the radical Muslim clerics away from the good ones in the East Java. This is a simplistical comments from a layman pribumi

  4. dave says:

    The mud disaster was definitely caused by the Lapindo’s drilling…period!!! Had the company not drilled it or created whatever holes for the mud to leak through and surface there, the disaster could have been 100% prevented and the substances underground would have flown in a normal manner undisturbed!!! Most of all, the drilling area was too proximate to populated areas, folks, which certainly it was against mining regulations. Whatever happens now, the company with all those moronic experts or bribed geologists and municipal officials or government with whatever reasons behind the drilling-permission granting are to be responsible for the disaster…the argument is simply as simple as what i just stated, people….

  5. RADEN says:

    I am amazed to see how the east java provincial governor election process have done, none of the 4 strongest candidates seriously addressed the root cause of sidoardjo’s mud volcano tragedy. Simplistically, cut short the topics down to infrastructure repair planning and those strong contenders may not bring the real legal reformation yet they received the major votes from the highest density of east java population. The legislators in JKT allow the state funds for bailout a private company’s disaster cost of sidoarjo, the court endorsed Lapindo’s blaming the jogjakarta earthquakes as the reason of mud volcano instead of leaving to the independent courtroom process. recently Lapindo was ranked by government as an evironmentally green in running the company operation policy and everyone are silent about it.

    Ironically ill fated Indonesia? are we a democratic nation? do u believe in ill fate? or do u believe in profeeteers do exist in every episode of Indonesia? do u believe in genetically defect generation of indonesia do exist? if not then given the 1 decade reformation era, why we dont see justice & democratic solution for sidoarjo mud volcano’s victims ?

  6. JIJ says:

    One question
    What if it was oil that was flowing out of the earth with 150.000m3 a day
    then the world would find a solution for controlling it.
    and boats and pipelines would be build verry quick.

  7. Ing says:

    Government blames Lapindo, and ask Lapindo to solve the problem..
    Lapindo blames the nature, and ask government to solve the problem..
    While they are blaming one another, the victims have no qualified place to live..
    why don’t they split half and half and let the victims to migrate first and have a ‘life’ in the new place.. then find out whose mistake it was afterward? The one which is found at fault then pay the other part another half..

  8. Dragonwall says:

    This is what you get from geologist from Indonesia. Perhaps the easy way out. Few commentors like van den Berg, DDL of which I find MK to be a better rational comment.

    Each drilling pipes can g up to 100 feet and that is approximately 30 metres so to cover 3000 meters is not that difficult at all. In the 1970’s each of those pipes cost around 150,000 USD I don’t know how much it is now as I have lost track of that. Indonesian Government is prepared to spared billions in lose change but choose to ignore the cost is using pipes and that goes to the culprit Lapindo Brantas.
    There is no such things as interpretation but perhaps thermal imaging to find whether there is or no oil underground.
    The problem is that LB did not use any pipes to do the testing that caused the whole disaster. If the mud were to be directed to the sea it will cause another even bigger disaster like damaging the eco system.

    Speaking of 150,000 m3 of mud to flow out is different from 150,000m3 of oil because mud is thicker and if it is oil then the output will probably triple the size that I don’t think building ships will be fast enough for the oil to flow nto the sea and cause an even greater damage to the eco system far greater that what is hapenning in the Gulf of Mexico.

    When they put out a burning well they use to drop nitro to blow out the flame and create a pressure for the oil to flow back enough time for them to cap it.

    When don’t the Government, make it LB responsibility, to start pointing out where it started because they knew well where it was. Start clearing the are of the mud and in the meantime divert all mud into deep valley, mountain valleys like uruk tanah.
    After the trigger point is discovered they can start driving pipes into the hole and create a a natural flow for the mud to flow out instead of flowing everywhere. Once it come to a depth of certainty there is a natural flow coming out. Redirect the mud to the valleys whereever you can find. When the mud flow slows down then the pressure will reduce to enable them to cpa the hole.

    Of course the cost will be huge, clearing mud, driving pipes, etc etc. But comparing to the damage what is the difference. At least Indonesia will not be full of mud!!!!!!!

    Especially when now it is spewing even larger amount of gas the amount of mudflow will not stop is no action is taken NOW.

    Well talking of 1900 when something happens it came Christmas, so it has Christmas many times already but no one seemed to care, right!

    I bet you if nothing is done, Indonesia will face a much greater disaster in the forthcoming future like the whole of central Jave covered with mud.

    Good luck mudding more.

  9. dragonwall says:

    This is the latest update on what will happened to those victims of the mudflow.

    Aburizal foils mudflow hopes: Activists
    Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Sidoarjo | Sat, 05/29/2010 9:39 AM | Headlines A | A | A |
    Tycoon Aburizal Bakrie’s recent amiable relationship with the government has shattered some Sidoarjo mudflow victims’ hopes that Aburizal’s company, Lapindo Brantas, will take full responsibility for the disaster, activists say.
    Months of tension between Aburizal, who is Golkar Party chairman, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, recently eased, as indicated by Aburizal’s appointment as the coalition joint secretariat head.
    “Aburizal’s position is very strategic for influencing government policies,” said Community Legal Aid chairman Taufik Basari on Friday.
    Courts and the government determined that PT Lapindo Brantas Inc., which is partially-owned by Aburizal, was not responsible for the Lapindo volcanic mudflow.
    However, many national and international scientists and victims believe the company is responsible for the ongoing mudflow, which began in May 2006.
    The “warm” relationship between Yudhoyono and Aburizal would constrain government efforts to force Lapindo to take full responsibility, said Riza Damanik, secretary-general of the People’s Coalition for Justice in Fisheries.
    Riza said the government’s inquiries were suspect, and cited a sluggish police investigation, prosecutors’ indifference to experts who said the mudflow was not caused by a natural phenomenon and issuance of a warrant to stop the Lapindo investigation.
    Riza also criticized the government’s assumption of responsibility for Lapindo at the expense of taxpayers.
    The government allocated Rp 5.3 billion (US$572,000) for the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency in 2007 and an additional Rp 500 billion 2008.
    The government spent Rp 1.1 trillion on the Lapindo case in 2008 in total and an additional Rp 1.14 trillion in 2009.
    Aburizal said the mudflow was a natural disaster and had nothing to do with his company’s gas drilling.
    “Similar mudflows have also appeared in several areas across the country, including in South Kalimantan, West Java and South Sumatra,” he said.
    PT Minarak Lapindo Jawa has paid Rp 6.57 trillion to mudflow victims as of March 2010 in exchange for land titles. (rdf)

    These are only compensation on face value, what about the environment ? Not forgetting there were numerous factories in that surrounding.
    Imagine a person who knows nothing about drilling can sum up the incident as natural disaster against the findings and opinion of geological experts.

    This is like what I said, the easy way out for Indonesia to bail the ABU out.

  10. dragonwall says:

    There is something amiss!

    From the figures, if they were correctly placed, spell of something that could be perhaps a huge mistake by the Indonesian Government spearheaded by Jusuf Kalla. Diverting as much as possible tax payers money so that they could dissappear quickly without a trace.

    Or perhaps it is another way of siphoning tax payers money and send them directly into that ABU’s pocket.

    I simply do not trust this ABU and if SBY is not carefully he will be caught in this entrapment.

    I suppose politics is done this way where you draw a cobweb and when others tried t get closer they will be drawn into the dragnet and be trapped there awaiting certain death. If SBY is mart enough to pull out now, I think there is still time for him before it is too late and just because this ABU is with Golkar he thinks that is the best way of getting out of trouble.

    We will just wait and watch for his next announcement to become another rich man. How he do it is what we have predicted and not because his coal concession is doing well or his explorations have raked him more money.

    It is all INDONESIA TAXPAYER”S MONEY, nothing less but even more I guess if I am not wrong in my allocation.

  11. madrotter says:

    all you can expect from sby is another album…

  12. dragonwall says:

    Was that your pregnant wife in the avatar? It’s quite befitting on BSY’s album or perhaps a title like “Make another one”!

    Ain’t short of comment.

  13. dragonwall says:

    correction BSY should be SBY thanks

  14. madrotter says:

    yup thats my wife but i don’t want her on the cover of an sby album!

  15. M. Napitupulu says:

    All the above comment were 4 years ago. Recently at end of May 2011 several word expert gathering in East Java to discuss and presented their opinions. One said the mud flow will be ceased or stop naturally in the next 20 years. Other said said it is a natural disaster. But no real solutions proposed.

    The real solution I ever proposed to the concern authority is to combine the geological natural phenomena of mud flow and the civil engineering solution. The natural phenomena of mud flow normally stop itself after building up of a mud mountain higher than the blow up pressure of the mud. The civil engineering solution is to build a dam around the existing dike / embankment with the height above the blow up pressure of the mud. In Sidoarjo mud flow cases about 25 to 30 m above original ground elevation. The feasibility study at least be made for three alternatives: First by constructing dam 35 m height, second by making/drilling Relief Well close to the mudflow with special flat-form like offshore oil/gas drilling, and third alternative as the existing condition 20 m embankment plus continuous dredging and discharging the mud to Kali/river Porong. The best out of the three alternative will be selected. Not Like now no action at all.
    If you want to see my proposal in 2008 please visit my Bloc:
    The real action and solution is awaiting by the east java society

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