Northwest Energy Association

May 19, 2016 NWEA Luncheon

Initiation and subsurface dynamics of the LUSI mud eruption, East Java Indonesia

Professor Max Rudolph, Department of Geology, Portland State University

In May of 2006, a large sub-aerial mud eruption began near the city of Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. The peak discharge from the mud eruption, called 'LUSI' was in excess of 160,000 m^3/day, and the mud has displaced tens of thousands of people and cost several billion dollars in economic losses. The initiation of the eruption was controversial, with some scientists suggesting that the eruption was triggered by the Mw 6.4 Yogyakarta Earthquake, while others suggested that the eruption was a consequence of drilling operations at the nearby Banjar-Panji 1 gas exploration well. I will discuss earthquake triggering of mud volcanoes worldwide, and whether the LUSI eruption was likely triggered by an earthquake or by drilling. Understanding the mechanics and longevity of the eruption remains important in order to manage the response to the disaster. I'll discuss constraints on subsurface dynamics from ground deformation mapped using L-band InSAR and inverse modeling, which reveals distinct subsurface mud and fluid sources, and predictions of the likely future behavior of the mud eruption.

Max Rudolph is an assistant professor of Geology at Portland State University. Rudolph studies geologic processes involving fluids, including global-scale mantle convection, heat transport by groundwater flow, and eruptive processes in mud volcanoes, geysers, and magmatic systems. Prior to arriving at Portland State in 2014, Rudolph was a postdoctoral researcher in the physics department of University of Colorado, Boulder and graduated with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2012. 

A complete list of publications can be found here:


Please note: This will be our final regular meeting until September. A special joint meeting between NWEA and SPE will be held in June.

Members: you should have received your ballot for the 2016 - 2017 officers and board members. Please return your ballot via email prior to May 16. election results will be announced at the May 19 lunch meeting.