Monitoring the Lusi mud volcano, Java - 2006-2009

For more than 2 years, Airbus Defence and Space has been tasking the FORMOSAT-2 satellite every month to acquire imagery of the Lusi mud volcano in Java. Two SPOT 5 and 20 FORMOSAT-2 images have been analysed and compared to monitor the volcano’s behaviour, documenting the Indonesian authorities’ efforts to dam and channel the mudflow.

Since 29 May 2006, a mud volcano has been spewing out a hot, viscous and foul-smelling slurry in the district of Sidoarjo, on the eastern side of the island of Java, Indonesia.

Between 5,000 m³ and 150,000 m³ of mud is erupting from the volcano every day. The mud is coming from a pocket of pressurized hot water 2,700 metres below the surface. As it rises, the water mixes with sediments to form a viscous slurry of mud that is spreading around the volcano crater and forming a peak. Many experts believe it is impossible to tell how long the eruption will last. The volcano could continue spewing mud for years or decades to come.

The extent of the Lusi mud volcano and the efforts of the Indonesian authorities to contain its inexorable advance convinced Airbus Defence and Space to monitor it.

Risk assessment

An archive SPOT 5 image mapped the site’s status before the volcano’s eruption. A 2nd SPOT 5 image captured what was happening 2 months after the eruption began. The first risk assessments indicated that the authorities had an exceptional event on their hands. Airbus Defence and Space therefore decided to monitor the site.

Lusi Mud Volcano - SPOT 5 Image of 14/08/2005

Lusi Mud Volcano - SPOT 5 satellite image on 14/08/2005

Lusi Mud Volcano - SPOT 5 image of 07/08/2006

Lusi Mud Volcano - SPOT 5 satellite image on 07/08/2006

Satellite tasking

Airbus Defence and Space tasked the FORMOSAT-2 geosynchronous satellite to acquire images of the site on a regular basis.
For 2½ years, FORMOSAT-2 delivered monthly updates on the volcano’s advance. These images were compared to detect changes and the time series was posted on the Web.

Lusi Mud Volcano - FORMOSAT-2 image of 23/05/2007

Lusi Mud Volcano - FORMOSAT-2 image on 23/05/2007

Lusi Mud Volcano - FORMOSAT-2 image of 20/01/2009

Lusi Mud Volcano - FORMOSAT-2 image on 20/01/2009

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