Sidoarjo Mud Flow Disaster

July, 2008 - Indonesia
  • The Sidoarjo Mudflow is an ongoing eruption of gas and mud in East Java, Indonesia. Hot mud has been flowing since May 2006 and it appears that the flow will continue indefinitely. So far all efforts to stem the flow have failed.
  • On May 28, 2006, PT Lapindo Brantas targeted gas by drilling a borehole named the 'Banjar-Panji 1 exploration well'. In the first stage of drilling the drill string first went through a thick clay seam, volcanic debris and finally into permeable carbonate rocks. At this stage the borehole was surrounded by a steel casing to help stabilize it. At 5:00 a.m. local time a second stage of drilling began and the drill string went deeper, to about 2,834 m (9,298 ft), this time without a protective casing, after which water, steam and a small amount of gas erupted at a location about 200 m southwest of the well.
  • The extra pressure formed fractures around the borehole that propagated 1-2km to the surface and emerged at the surface. The most likely cause of these hydraulic fractures was the unprotected drill string in the second stage of drilling. Borehole protection by steel casing is a common procedure in oil or gas exploration.
  • Sigoarjo Mudflow Disaster - YouTube



    The exit point where the mud is still flowing up out of the ground 2 years after it started.

    The town looks like it was hit by an atomic bomb.



    Looking down from one of the man made barriers. Most of the mud here has solidified because of the dry season.

    A man salvages a bicycle load of bricks from the rubble.

  • By September 2006 the hot mudflow had inundated rice paddies and villages, resulting in the displacement of more than 11,000 people from eight villages. Twenty-five factories had to be abandoned, and fish and shrimp ponds were destroyed. Transportation and power transmission infrastructure has been damaged extensively in the area.
  • A network of dams and barriers has been erected to contain the mud and here has been an effort to stop and/or lessen the effects of the mud flow through the dropping of chains of concrete balls into the crater. This plan has been criticized for potentially inducing further flows to the surface in an area already severely weakened rather than succeeding in stemming the flow. The first series of concrete balls was lowered into the mud volcano on February 24, 2007. It was planned to deployed up to 1500 such balls. On March 19 2007, after hundreds of balls had been dropped into the mouth of the hole, the flow of mud stopped for a period of 30 minutes.
  • As of July 2008, the mud flow is still ongoing. A study has found that the mud volcano is collapsing under its own weight, possibly beginning of caldera formation
  • Sidoarjo_Mudflow_05


    In this area, the mud flow is deep, only the birds go here.

    Looking out over the town. What little of it remains is being picked clean by people trying to scrounge whatever building materials they can.



    Using a sledgehammer to break away concrete to get at the valuable steel rebar inside.

    This man takes a brief break from scavenging in the hot sun.



    Deep in the mud, excavating for ceramic tiles.

    This used to be a heavily populated area. Now, almost nothing remains.



    It is hard to understand the full scope of the disaster. There is no sign of the mud flow stopping any time soon. It may go on for many more years.

    Mud is now being pumped into the river. Who knows what further implications this will have.