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Mud Volcano

Gas drilling on the Indonesian island of Java has a "mud volcano" that has killed 13 people and may render four square miles (ten square kilometres) of countryside uninhabitable for years. In a report released on January 23, a team of British researchers says the deadly upwelling began when an gas well punched through a layer of rock 9,300 feet (2,800 meters) below the surface, allowing hot, high-pressure water to . The water carried mud to the surface, where it has spread across a region 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) in in the eight months since the eruption began.

The mud volcano is similar to a gusher or blowout, which occur in oil drilling when oil or gas squirt to the surface, the team says. This upwelling, however, spews out a volume of mud equivalent to a dozen Olympic swimming pools each day. Although the eruption isn't as violent as a volcano, more than a dozen people died when a natural gas pipeline ruptured. The research team, who published their findings in the February issue of GSA Today, also estimate that the volcano, called Lusi, will leave more than 11,000 people permanently displaced.