Saturday, October 07, 2006
Numerous residents are homeless due to mud volcano
Four months ago, a torrent of hot mud from deep beneath the surface of Indonesia's seismically charged Java island began surging from a natural gas exploration site following a drilling accident.
The "mud volcano" pours out some 126- thousand cubic metres (163- thousand cubic yards) of mud every day.
Often spewing out in geyser-like eruptions, the mud has left some 665 acres swamped or abandoned as unsafe, forcing more than 10-thousand people from their homes.
Workers in Sidoarjo battled to build a dam next to the railway tracks to stop the flow.
The mud, which stands as deep as 14.6 metres (16 feet) in places, has submerged or washed into houses in four villages. At least 20 factories and many acres of rice fields and prawn farms have been destroyed.
Experts say the mud volcano is one of the largest ever recorded on land.
Geologists fear the technology may not exist to stop the eruption, saying mud could flow for years or even centuries, or stop on its own at any time.
The mud is believed to come from a reservoir 3 and a half miles (25.7 kilometres) below the surface that has been pressurised by shifts in the crust or by the accumulation of hydrocarbon gases.
The government recently gave permission to dump the mud into the sea via a local river.
But experts question whether that will get rid of the sludge faster than it gushes from the hole, and environmentalists are opposing the plan as a threat to the marine ecosystem.