LUSI: the origin, evolution and future of a mud volcano disaster in Java – 9th July 2014

The EGGS evening talk on 9 July 2014 was almost cancelled when the speaker, David Shilston, was taken ill travelling to the Geological Society. While being treated by paramedics, David contacted Dr. Andrew Hart to step into the breach! As luck would have it, Andrew was more than qualified to ‘rock up’ and save the day.

LUSI Mud Volcano

The lecture was entitled “LUSI:  the origin, evolution and future of a mud volcano disaster in Java”, and took its 25 attendees (further joined us online) through the controversial origins of LUSI through to the situation today. It highlighted the mammoth engineering effort to contain the mud volcano, and the devastation the disaster has had on the local population. Andrew demonstrated how LUSI compares to other mud volcanoes around the world, including our very own Royal Wootton Basset mud springs!

Andrew showed the audience Atkins’ work which analyses DifSAR data to show how the region around LUSI has subsided. This analysis was complicated by the presence of neighbouring gas fields which confuse LUSI’s deformation signature. LUSI continues to erupt, and Andrew questioned what the future holds for the evolution of LUSI – could it end up deforming a large area like its extinct neighbour, the 4km wide Porong Feature? How would this affect the lives of those who live and work nearby and the infrastructure within the area?  What about the long term stability of the earth embankments currently retaining the erupted mud? 

LUSI is a unique controversial event. It highlights how important it is for us, as geologists and geotechnical engineers, to really understand the ground conditions and the risks associated with them.

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