I was already impressed with the volume and vehemence of Java’s mud eruption, but now scientists are saying that the eruption could continue for as long as a century:
"It's unlikely to stop permanently for a long time," Adriano Mazzini told a press conference in Jakarta. "It's hard to say when the overpressure will have been fully released. It could be one, 10 or 100 years. But to seal it will be very, very difficult." According to Mr Mazzini, unless the flow stops soon, the affected land, which has already starting sinking, could subside significantly. "It will be catastrophic," he said.A “political and business consultant” named Dennis Heffernan makes an interesting comparison:
"Unless more resources are put to work, we're in danger of a catastrophe on the level of the Exxon Valdez."So far, twenty factories and at least six villages have been inundated. And barriers intended to stop the flow have collapsed.
"Around 9pm, I heard thunder and my bed shook. When I woke up, hot mud was already knee deep," said excavator operator Effendi, who suffered bruises.PT Lapindo Brantas, the gas exploration company whose two-mile-deep drilling may be responsible for the eruption, is bankrolling a torrid soap opera, in which volcanic passions are set against a backdrop of hot, stinking mud (two bathtubs' worth per second, by one estimate). Given the current scientific thinking on the mudflow, perhaps the series will run a good deal longer than the 13 episodes now in production.
So far, the government's solution seems to be to channel the mud into the ocean, which runs the risk of compromising – if not destroying - the livelihood of millions of coastal residents.
I can't help wondering whether all of this trouble would’ve been acceptable, economically speaking, if Lapindo had found a large enough gas field.