Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuffaceous marl

My new favorite phrase in English. I believe it was coined to describe Bob Marley's hairstyle. The French hairstylist who popularized it went by the name Sonde Fm.

That's what I do at Indonesian geology conferences: make up new definitions for scientific terms, and take photographs of the photographers.

This conference was about the Sidoarjo mud volcano, a geyser of hot mud that's been gushing from the ground in East Java since late May of last year. It has covered paddy fields, factories, schools, and whole villages. More than 10,000 people have lost their homes.

The cause of the mud volcano is still a matter of debate - hence, the conference - but it seems likely related to a gas exploration company that drilled a well without using proper sheathing to guard against subterranean pressure. Efforts to stop the flow of mud have failed, which isn't surprising. How do you stop a volcano?

There was a guy at the conference trying to sell souvenir boxes of the mud (lumpur). I asked if he'd sold many and he said no, but he thought people might be waiting until the end of the day so they wouldn't have to carry them around. Then he tried to sell me one. I turned him down, but I kind of regretted it later, because I bet he's a displaced guy just trying to make a living in the post-volcano era.

We're going down to Sidoarjo in a couple of weeks to do some stories on the mud, so more on that later.


Raiyen said...

I don't think he's really trying to sell the mud. I think he only wanted to make a statement. Well, don't you think so?

kopisusu2 said...

Interesting ... I hadn't thought of that. He'd put quite a few little plastic boxes together, though, so it must have cost him a bit.

santy said...

it makes for a nice historical souvenir though... :)

kathleen adams said...

Hey Trish-Heard you about an hour ago on NPR reporting on the latest ferry incident. We're in the middle of pledge drive and I hope you guys don't mind if I talk up your work as freelancers and the amount of effort that goes into your reports.


kopisusu2 said...

Not at all! I'm blushing!

And yes, Santy, I actually wish I'd bought one now ... we have the perfect shelf for it. Maybe they're selling them in Sidoarjo too.