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Mitigation of Environmental Impacts of the LuSi Mud Volcano in East Java




1: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Andrew Whittle

Faculty email:


Apply by:

September 18


Andrew Whittle: ajwhittl@mit.edu

Project Description

Hot mud and gases have been continuously erupting from a mud volcano located near Sidoarjo in East Java for almost 14 years, which is currently discharging 5,000 – 15,000 m3/day of mud. This LuSi mud volcano has displaced 40,000-60,000 people, drowning more than 15 villages, disrupting key transportation links (rail and road) and has caused damages exceeding $2.7B. The mudflows currently cover an area of 8.2 km2 to a depth of 30m and are contained within a system of perimeter levees/dykes. While there has been much scientific debate about the causes of the eruption, as yet there is no viable plan for plugging the eruption and mechanistic models suggest that it could last another 25-70 years. This presents a huge engineering challenge for environmental mitigation: The current levee containment system was poorly designed (built as a series of temporary defenses), has marginal stability and limited freeboard due to large compression of the underlying soft clay soils. The goal of this project is to investigate the causes of levee failures that have occurred in the last two years and to evaluate designs for a log-term engineered containment.


Strong background in mechanics of soils, structures and fluids (1.037, 1.050, 1.060).