THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING FIRST
My latest trip to the E. Java mud volcano called Lusi turned out to be an adventure in contradictions.
The largest known disaster ever caused by a mud volcano turned out to be a peaceful, steaming lake. That is - if one forgets about the 19-meter deep mud closer to the main 50-meter wide crack leading straight into the abyss. And then there are the four sunken villages and tens of thousands of refugees.
The nearby Porong River, so vigorously protected by organizations of various shades of green, turned out to be a narrow, muddy drain dug under the order of the former Dutch colonizers.
And finally, the scientist who was the first to cry “wolf!” was and is just that: a scientist who wanted to be the first. Wanted that too eagerly, it might seem; but let us begin from the beginning, geographically and chronologicallyr.
The shortest distance between three truths…
For millions of years the huge Australian tectonic plate has been slowly crawling with its unimaginable weight over its lighter Asian neighbor, crushing huge masses of water-logged land into the deep. At tens of kilometers depth the stone began to melt and turn into red-hot lava, which then headed upwards. That's how the island of Java came to be. What happened to the water I'm afraid even to imagine. But part of it is still there, under our feet... And the other part has already found its way upstairs.
This is the geophysical truth, challenged by nobody. Now, if you draw a straight line from Bujel Tasek through a couple of smaller mud volcanoes born within days of the huge disaster mentioned earlier, then before reaching a curve of the Porong drain it would pass through Lusi. I.e., LUmpur ('mud") of SIdoarjo (the name of a nearby city) - the largest ever disaster caused by a mud volcano, located precisely on the same line with the other mud. That line is a kind of a projection to the surface of the earth of the Watukosek tectonic fault that lies below.
On the way from Surabaya's airport to the office of P.T. Minarak Lapindo Jaya we heard local radio news about yet another fire at one of the numerous cracks in the earth oozing flammable gases.
A couple of hours later in the office of the company we were looking at photos and videos of Lusi’s earlier stages, including those of the two smaller volcanoes that had erupted roughly on the same straight line. And there came the news that moving soil had ruptured a nearby water pipe once again.
"One would think that any unprejudiced person could easily understand that all of this can be nothing else but a natural tectonic movement of the earth," - says P.T. Minarak Lapindo Jaya representat
Why? Because a certain British geologist "strongly feels" that LUSI was caused by a gas well drilled by Lapindo. Not by nature.