Lusi – The “man made” volcano?

Not all natural phenomena that carry the name “volcano” are caused by the eruption of some kind of magma. A mudvolcano is one of them. Since the 29th of may, 2006, mud and steam are spewing from the earth on the island of Java, Indonesia, leaving  thousands of people homeless. Today, it is still “erupting”. At that time, a drilling rig was in the direct vicinity, and the drilling rig had experienced some problems with the well the days before. On the 26th of may, a M6.3 earthquake occured 250 km to the southwest of the location, with several aftershocks, leading to those problems with the well. So….. Who did it? What caused the Lusi Mud Volcano to form? Was it the oil company, was it nature, are they both to blame?

Let’s start off by mentioning that despite the general idea you might get from watching the Discovery Channel oil and rig shows, drilling a well for oil and gas nowadays is in general a very delicate, well planned and carefully managed operation. Countless rules, regulations, industry standards, best practices and company regulations have to be followed in order to begin or continue drilling operations.

Two of the key things to understand what could have caused this disaster are the management of formation pressure and the design of a casing scheme.

When we are thinking about volcanism, we are in general talking about very high pressured ‘fluids’ that are stored in a magma reservoir, that crack, break, melt and blow their way through overlying formations from their source, often tens of kilometers down. Those fluids can be almost continuous (undeveloped hot fresh stuff, like basalt) or fluids in a sort of matrix of crystals (viscous mush, like rhyolite). When we talk about oil, gas or water reservoirs, we are talking about fluids and gasses that are stored inside the pore spaces of existing rock at some 2 to 3 kilometers down (in this case). Those pore spaces can be very small, like in shale/claystone, or even nonexistent, as in a homogeneous rock salt. Formations that have a large percentage of pore space are generally called reservoirs, because they can contain gas, oil or water that can flow through the rock. Sandstone and carbonate-rocks are the main types of reservoirs that are of interest for oil&gas, geothermal or drinkwater prospectors, despite the recent trends in shalegas.

When we drill down, all pore spaces we encounter have something in them, usually fresh or salt water, sometimes oil or gas, with a certain pressure. This pressure is caused by the weight of the overlying rocks pushing down on it, and sometimes by local geological stress. The deeper you go, the higher the pressure. This pressure can be expressed as an absolute measure, for example 400 bar at a depth of 3000 meters (let’s stick with metric for ease of understanding and calculation). We can also express this as a pressure gradient, a number that stays somewhat constant no matter how deep you go. We know that just fresh water (which has a specific density/gravity or SG of 1.00) will give you a hydrostatic pressure of 9.81 bars at 100 meters depth, so we can calculate that the 400 bar at 3000 meters is roughly equivalent to a hypothetical fluid which is 1.31 times heavier than water. If we would fill our hole from top to bottom with a fluid of 1.31 SG, we would nicely balance the pore pressure at 3000 meters depth to 400 bar, so that no fluids enter or exit the wellbore into the formation. This is the stable situation that is needed for drilling the formation. If the hydrostatic pressure caused by the column of fluid is increased too far above the pore pressure of the rock, the drilling fluid will leak into the pores of the formation, which is called “losses”. If the hydrostatic pressure is lowered too far, formation fluids and/or gas can start rushing into the wellbore, which is called a kick or influx. If a kick goes on without controlling the pressure down in the hole in some way, it can evolve into a uncontrolled flow or even a blowout at some point.

Pressure gradients in formations lie almost always between a hydrostatic gradient (1.00 SG) and a lithostatic gradient (+/- 2.6 SG). In rare cases, the pressure can exceed those gradients. A gas or oil reservoir that has been depleted will generally have a gradient lower than 1.00 SG, down to practically 0.00 SG in some places. On the other hand, some geological processes can cause a gradient greater than 2.6 SG in some extreme cases.

The area seen from the sky. This used to be a place where you could drive through villages and meet people.

It often happens that drilling proceeds through various formations with quite different formation pressure gradients from formation to formation. This poses a problem, because drilling cannot be resumed. If two different formations need fluids with very different specific gravities, there is no right number to choose. The stable condition that is required for continuing the drilling is not possible anymore.  If a formation is expected where the pressure gradient will be a lot higher or lower than the previously penetrated formations, preventative measures have to be taken. A steel pipe, called casing, with a diameter slightly smaller than the wellbore, is lowered into the well all the way to bottom. Cement is then pumped into the void between the casings outer wall and the wellbore to isolate and seal off all the formations that have been penetrated up (down?) to that point. If everything went according to plan, the casing and the cement will serve as a barrier to allow drilling to continue with a smaller drillbit and with a fluid that has the required density for the upcoming formation.

Before a well is drilled, there has to be a complete plan in place regarding the drilling fluids to be used and the casings that are planned to be run. Some wells need only 1 or 2 casing intervals, others need up to 10 different casing intervals because of the changing conditions down in the hole. If several wells have been drilled in the area already, things get a bit simpler, because you have a very good idea which formations you will encounter and you can look at the data from previous wells to see if they had problems with specific formations.

Now, with all of this information in mind, we can start looking at what actually happened in Indonesia.

A drilling spot was picked by the oil company to target a reservoir. The area is seismically active (as everything in Indonesia) and there is an active conventional volcano at 15 km from the drilling site. The area is particularly known for the existence of mud volcano’s, several can be found in the area, all getting their feed of water/mud from the same overpressured carbonate formation that stretches the area. Drilling started and a casing was cemented in place. Drilling commenced with a smaller drillbit and just below the casing, the strength of the formation and quality of the casing and cement was tested by performing a so-called leak-off test. The cement and the formation were confirmed to be strong enough to continue safe drilling.

Construction workers building a dam around the area to direct the flow of the mud.

On the 26th of may, a M6.3 earthquake shook Yogyjakarta, some 250 km away. Right after the quake, 7 minutes later, it was noted that some drilling fluid was lost to the formation, most likely into a fracture or fault. Two aftershocks followed, leading to the immediate total loss of all drilling fluid in the hole. The losses were cured using a special blend of chemicals to seal off the fracture or loss zone, which is a very common occurence in the industry. After this, drilling resumed. A day later, overpressured limestone was encountered, leading to the influx of formation fluid into the well. The influx was “killed” by increasing the density of the drilling fluid until the flow stopped. Barely a day later, mud, steam and gasses started spewing from the earth less than 200 meters away from the drilling site.

So, who or what is to blame? A recent statement of geologists and drilling engineers in the court case points to a human cause. In the statement it is mentioned that the drilling program for the well had not been followed. A casing was planned to be set some 250 meters above the formation that later on provided the catastrophic influx that cracked and broke through the overlying rocks that had limited strength. After breaking through the final sealing formation just above the high-pressured zone, the cap was off the shaken bottle.

Many of the other arguments can be found on the wikipedia page of this event: but it goes beyond this post to go into them in detail. Have a read through if you are curious.

The main thing is, that it is very well possible for human beings to have a devastating impact on the surroundings if great care is not taken. This example is probably the best candidate for being a truly man made volcano, although it doesn’t erupt any real lava. As this shows, it doesn’t take magma at 1000 degrees Celsius oozing or blowing out of the earth to do great damage to a village, just a bit of water and mud will have a devastating impact as well when driven by anomalously high pressure.

The main “vent”. It certainly does remind of a shield volcano.

The eruption started off with flowrates in excess of 100.000 m3/day, or more than 0.1 m3 km in 3 years. That flowrate has gone down a bit now, but geologists expect that it can take up to 35 years longer before the flow ceases. Meanwhile, all this material is being extracted from just below the eruption site. Subsidence is already measurable and even the formation of a small caldera is expected the next couple of years. Some 40.000 people have already had to flee their homes, a staggering number that even most large conventional eruptions cannot match.

El Nathan

192 thoughts on “Lusi – The “man made” volcano?

  1. @Those who have written a post:
    I am amazed how many who have answered the call for posts. It proves what I have always said, if this is a group effort it only get better than the sum of its parts. I am currently posting the posts in order of them coming in. So, do not worry, all of them will be published!

    Thank you all!

    GL Edit: Changed “now” to “not.”

  2. This post is a very good one. I enjoyed reading it very much as I edited it in.
    Very informative and balanced on a subject that has gotten a lot of hype down the years. And also as you will notice, very knowledgeably written. I learned a lot.

    • The signal is predominant in high frequencies. with almost no elevetion in 1-2hz and no raised levels at all at the 0-1Hz band.
      Spontaneously I would say that this is weather, and if I look at other SILs in the area, Bjarnastadir, Mid-Mörk and Vestmannaeyjar they all show patterns like that, but it is most clear at Haukadalur.

  3. Agreed, great post, and something I never even knew about. What were they drilling for in the first place there out of curiosity?

  4. I remember hearing about this when it happened but the aerial photograph is amazing – to think it is still ongoing!
    It makes me also think about the volcano that started growing in a field. Was that in Mexico?

    • That farmer made a bundle from tourists while showing the volcano to them. It might be the only privately owned volcano on the planet.
      Paricutin is though not a proper volcano, it is a small cone that will never erupt again. To be correct the volcanoes name is Michoacán-Guanajuato and is a volcanic cone field.

      But I will give it one thing, Paricutin is much easier to pronounce after a bottle of tequila compared to Michoacán-Guanajuato.

      • @ Carl

        That subject alway’s get’s my back up. Paricutin is not a proper volcano (and its not even the youngest anymore), it is a cone that belong’s to a larger volcano as Carl said above.

        Many people dispute that volcanic field’s are ‘real volcanoes’ but surely every single stratovolcano/cone/lava dome must have a common magmatic source?

        • It can be a bit more elaborate than that.
          Take El Hierro for instance, it has a large volcanic field dotted with hundreds of Scoria cones. It also has interspaced a normal stratovolcano, and that one has flanking eruptions. And just to make things worse, the Stratovolcano has a different magmatic type then the scoria-field (that ejected the red lava that gave El Hierro it’s rusty name), and then we have the flanking fissure eruptions like Bob that seems to have a third type of lava. It is never easy in life 🙂

  5. This was a nice deep quake under Katla
    Monday 24.09.2012 12:25:30 63.637 -19.068 26.4 km 1.4 99.0 6.5 km NNE of Hábunga.
    It was only small but magma is moving down there!
    So far though nothing very definite in the tremor graphs.

    @ Talla… Oh yes! The stormy weather and constant rain is here. I feel the need to root out my thermal underwear ready for winter 😦

      • Remember the recent swarm in the Tjörnes fracture Zone? If Katla starts to act up, it will look something similar to that. Also, remember that Katla is situated on a fault line and is prone to purely tectonic events as well. 😉

  6. Currently the only place in Iceland showing any motion in any direction (except Grimsvötn) is Askja, it has a marked uplift and the GPS is being pushed hard to east. This is consistant with an inflation N or NNW of the GPS station.
    This together with persistant but still well spaced earthquake activity make Askja the current number 1 to erupt in the near future. Only question is if Grimsvötn or Hekla will erupt before Askja.
    Together those 3 are my current favourites to win the race to eruption.
    Only other volcano I can think of right now being close to erupting is Bárdarbunga, but I think that one will need at least a decade more before going off.

    • While going more unusual stations I found two more that is moving rapidly in new directions.
      1. Vogsosar, after an earthquake in 2008 the station started to move slowly up with 10mm in 4 years, and a never before seen 20mm east motion. This is probably caused by activity in Krisuvik.

      2. Siglufjördur has after a long period of stability moved 20mm west and 15mm down during 2012. This is probably the reason for the quake swarm we saw a few days ago. Interestingly enough that requires that another part of the plate has had rapid uplift, ie. a bradyseism. Only part that has had uplift in recent years is Theistareykjarbunga. Right now Theystareykir is not moving upwards so this is probably a delayed factor.

    • Hekla and Hengill also have some inflation. But I only expect Hekla to erupt in soon.
      Besides the most likely candidates for next Icelandic eruption are Askja (but if happens it will be small), Grimsvotn, Krisuvik (or Reykjanes), Bardarbunga (a lot of it under ice and no GPS data for it, and definitively restless) and Katla (already had years of uplift). Perhaps Veidivotn, Hengill, Theisreykjarbunga and Langjokull in a more far future. Another volcano I wait is Kverfjoll, there is no data for it (again most of it under ice), but it has deep quakes once in a while.

      I think for all these volcanoes, except Hekla, I expect a major swarm before the eruption. But judging from several examples, icelandic volcanoes are quite quick between giving a warning and starting an eruption. Katla could erupt within a month if earthquakes start rumbling non-stop.

      And then we have Hamarinn, Skrokkalda, Veidivotn region, but this is where we disagree. I am still not convinced that the GPS upwards trend there is due only to glacial uplift. We know thats the spot for large fissure eruptions and it will eventually happen again.

  7. I remember when this thing happened and was following it via numerous online sources. Despite the desire to desire to punitively gut the drilling company, it is still a natural phenomena and was just the “right” earthquake away from doing this by itself.

    The area is prone to compressing strata, at the extreme, down in the subduction zone itself, melt accumulates and starts to percolate up forming the volcanic chain (real volcanos) where the slab gets around 125km depth.

    Over in Azerbaijan, they had to do a study to evaluate the mudvolcano threat, since those tend to erupt and catch fire. (natural gas). Not really where you want to put a petrochemical pipeline.

    I like the pending caldera mention. I had a post on the subject that I was going to write… but stopped. It might be time to pick that one up, complete and submit it.

    Oh… did I mention that this article kicks arse?

    (it does!)

    • Imagine this scenario:

      If there had been no mud eruption but instead a very substantial magmatic intrusion into the compressed mud layer, we’d have had the grand-daddy of a hydromagmatic, maar-forming eruption. Now, in how many other places are there similar “mud-chambers” and of those, how many are close enough for this scenario to materialise?

      • All one have to do is count the thousands of Indonesian Maars…
        Pretty much the entire Tondano Caldera is a Maar-pool, with mud exploding to high heavens during larger episodes at Lokon-Empung and the others.

        • My point exactly. So instead of Lusi being an unmitigated disaster, it could turn out to have been a blessing in disguise as now, people have had a chance to leave with their lives if not their possessions, tough as that is though.

  8. Well Nathan, that’s really a hell of a post. You explained in a very didactic and pedagogic way the drilling fluids part. Thank you for this quality article.

  9. From Last thread:

    Talla says:
    September 24, 2012 at 09:05 (Edit)

    OT: the UK’s “year with no summer” has quickly turned into full-scale Autumn. It was the equinox on Saturday and our first storm started yesterday with non-stop rain and strong wind. It’s been raining in Wiltshire for over 24 hours now. If it hasn’t reached Diana yet then it soon will.

    An odd thing was noted about the progression of the developing El-Niño. It seems to have stalled. The last time a developing El-Niño stalled like this was back after Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption. Weather became… ‘less than consistent’, with temperature deviations still being paraded around as proof of the Volcano-Weather connection. (From SO2 and ash) Is there a connection? Most likely. But in this case, nothing has erupted at the Pinatubo scale.

    So… is it just a transient? Or is there something real there that has caused the El-Niño to stall out?


    • Oh… the significance. (might be handy)

      ENSO (El Niño–Southern Oscillation) is probably the most significant driver of the Sea-Atmosphere thermal interaction. It may even play a part in how the NAO (North Atlantic oscillation) operates, and that directly impacts what the Northern Hemisphere weather does.

      We just came off of a La-Niña and a negative NAO from the last couple of years, the semi-permanant Icelandic Low wandered off, and European weather was squirrelly. I benefited since the relative positions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores/Bermuda High drive the formation and paths of Hurricanes. So, while Europeans cussed the weather, I questioned whether I had bought too much gas for my generator.

      • That’s interesting. What I also find interesting is that if the weather we’ve been having this year were reported from the Middle Ages (or any time up to the late 19th century really) then Volcanologists would be looking around for an eruption to account for it. We know there hasn’t been an eruption. Is it possible that volcanoes have been unfairly blamed in the past for similar weather patterns?

        • Baring of course that there has been no large underwater eruption that was rather gassy…
          We had one at Havre Seamount this year. But we do not know how gassy it was. We only know that it must have been fairly substantial.

      • Inge B. had to go there…

        (it’s okay, I have been meaning to do it anyway.)

        Puyehue-Cordon Caulle was a huge unexpected eruption to many of us. It’s stupendous 5 to 10 km wide eruptive column was a beauty to behold… an image of that complete with dwarfed radio towers in the foreground is still my desktop wallpaper, and a nighttime lightning streaked version graces the wallpaper of my phone. Puyehue was impressive.

        I have yet to see an actual size statement about it… sure, ballpark estimates are out there, but nothing empirical. I ran a few DRE tallies using the Mastin et al formula, and after a while I gave up and we wandered off into other volcanic events… Puyehue continues to do its thing to this day.

        Using the heights from Inge B’s link (over at GVP) this is what I come up with using the high and low plume heights reported there.

        The max in that plot, which only goes to January 2012, only goes to 1.13E+09 DRE, which is just in VEI-5 territory. Using the low reports, a solid VEI-4.

        But even with those pretty reliable (to me) estimates, that still brings Puyehue in at about 1/10th of Pinatubo‘s 11 km³ VEI-6 event.

        Okay… but what about the tropopause?

        Well, that’s were is gets dicey. I didn’t run the average heights for Pinatubo, but a tropopause height of about 16.5 km is not unheard of. (June-July) It’s a pretty safe assumption that Pinatubo easily surpassed that. (easily blowing past 19km).

        The dicey part is Puyehue. The average June-July (2011) tropopause is 10.48 km, dropping as low as 9.8 at some longitudes. In the vicinity of Puyehue, it was about 10.2 km at the time of eruption. According to Inge B’s GVP link, the eruptive column was about 10 to 13.7 km for the first 9 days. After that it never really got back to the 10 km realm until 19 Oct 2011, where it flirted with it for about 13 days.

        Ignoring the the October period, and only looking at the period when Puyehue could have easily punched the tropopause, it only erupted about 1.8 x 10^8 m³ of DRE during that initial event. (first 9 to 10 days)

        Everything else that Puyehue has done has been strictly in the Troposphere.

        Tropopause height for the months of June and July, 2011. (globally, all longitudes)

    • Floods everywhere and train disruption this morning in Somerset. The river I pass every day on my commute is back up to winter height (where it was for most of the summer). What is worrying people is what will happen when we get the rain that normally fills the rivers – seeing that they are full already.
      I should explain for non-UK readers that I live on/near a chalk downland area. Our streams are known as winterbournes because they usually only flow in the winter and our chalk streams (what our rivers are called) are usually very shallow in the summer.

      • Heavy rain here in Newcastle! Hasn’t stopped raining for 17 hours, with gales at times and poor visibility. Although I haven’t seen any flooding (yet…). Pretty Grim… :/

        • I would love to see some of that rain here in NE Oregon. have to carefully keep our
          roses watered so the won’t die. Did get a small amount last night. Still smoky from
          all the wildfires…. Wife is an English Cottage style gardener. Hard to do in the
          Big Lonesome of NE Oregon, impossible in this weather…

        • I am just glad I live on a small hill. Those near the river are watching levels closely here.
          Here in the Northwest UK, Autumn storms like this are normal. It’s just that we have had so much rain already this year that water tables must be up to full again. ….. I bet next year there will be a hose pipe ban again though …… We just cannot seem to get our water services right. The Victorians were much better at it than we are in the 21st century….But I suppose the majority then didn’t use water to wash in!

  10. This is something I wanted to make for some time

    Here is the S wave animation Prior to the 2011 eruption (from October 1st to the 11 th)

    One can see there is a much lower velocity zone in the upper regions (which is expected in a way).

    I will explain a bit how the calculations were made and it is of course open to discussion :

    Data comes from (where from else !) and I used earthquake depth as distance to calculate wave velocity.
    So first I extracted the data from the IGN listings and then calculated Velocity values, velocities ratio and poisson ratio for each event. (Poisson ratio is not shown)
    I used data from CHIE.
    I got rid of Earthquakes where some phase data was missing and where depth was given at 0.

    Each dot is proportional to earthquake magnitude and color relates to the color bar at the bottom of the plot.

  11. Interesting post Nathan, thank you. Also interesting question: was the eruption man-made? Suspect not but the engineering project may have impacted the timing. No expert on drilling but it does not look as though they did anything to significantly increase the pressure in the area from what you say. They provided a way out for gas / mud which when blocked resulted in the gas and mud escaping elsewhere. The second spot was a weak spot where gas and mud may have erupted anyway in time.

    • That Hierro paper should be fascinating. They should be able to see what has changed since the Gorbatikov survey in 2004.

  12. Excellent article Nathan. You guys are really lifting the bar. I think it is great how this blog is rapidly developing. It already easily matches mainstream media and is filling the huge gap between dumbed down mass media hype and the the quality you’d expect from a professional journal. Warms the cockles of the heart it does.

    • Hear, hear! Well said that man. Congratulations on a really excellent article Nathan – such an interesting topic and so well-explained, and I second you too Bruce about the quality of Carl’s blog and its brilliant contributors. Gold stars and sticky buns all round!

  13. Somewhere in Mississippi….

    Around noon, the sheriff’s department received a call about the man dancing along Ward Pineview Road. By the time deputies arrived, the man had disappeared into the woods. But deputies had a hunch who their naked suspect might be, so they headed south about half a mile toward a residence. That’s where authorities said they found a metal toolbox which contained a working meth lab in the back yard.

    “The owner of this lab probably didn’t realize dancing naked on the side of the road may bring him some unwanted attention. If he is indeed who we think he is,” Sheriff Dean Howell said.

    Sheriff Howell said a hazardous materials cleanup crew was brought in to dismantle the meth lab.

    But in Texas….

    Houston officer kills double amputee in wheelchair

    By The Associated Press

    HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston police officer shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair Saturday inside a group home after police say the double amputee threatened the officer and aggressively waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen.

      • The prancing naked guy I heard about on the news (radio). I went and looked up the key words, “naked man”, “dancing”, “meth lab” in the news search and looked for anything that was in the area that the radio station might report on. (local station). On that site I then noticed the killing of the double amputee… “in self defense” article. While I support Law Enforcement, there is a line that I draw. Shooting kids off of bicycles with a Taser, fired from your moving squad car, then running over them just because your too damned lazy to either ask for help or get out and tackle them is beyond the pale. (Pensacola PD), Beating a ladies head against the car because she disobeyed you and got out of it during a traffic stop… also Pensacola, PD. At least they fired that one and brought him up on assault charges) and stuff where they overstep the bounds of their authority, are where I get seriously pissed off. The Taser shooter was exonerated. I agree that the kid was up to no good, but I don’t really see the need to run him over.

        So.. if I run across something like that, I like to bring it to peoples attention. Some of its humorous, like the Dancing Naked Guy, the Ohio man arrested for what was essentially “unlawful carnal knowledge of a picnic table,” and the two idiots in South Florida arrested for stealing an egg beater.. (armed robbery at that).

        Life is full of entertainment, you just have to pay attention.

        PS: That picnic table incident was seriously funny. We made all sorts of references about Yogi Bear. “Hey Boo Boo, looks like Mr Ranger really likes that picanic table”

        What the guy was actually arrested for was indecent exposure. His neighbors got tired of seeing him do that to the picnic table every afternoon, so they called the cops.

        Meanwhile in China… 5000 police dispatched to subdue a riot of about 2500 workers at the FoxConn dormitory in China (they make iPhone™ parts) That works out to two night sticks per rioter, no lines, no waiting. They will be back to making iPhones for Apple in no time. They might limp a little and be nursing a few broken appendages, but after the soreness wears off it’s business as usual.

        • I remember the “unlawful carnal knowledge of a picnic table”. That was probably at the same time the most hilarious, and sad piece of news I got recited. One might think that with all of the human ingeniouty the poor zap would have come up with something slightly nicer to carnaly know than a picnic table. Call me boring and traditional, but I prefer human carnal knowledge, in my case women. But if someone prefer something else of human origin, feel free to go ahead with my blessing.

          Here the US election got into the news with a bang. To the utmost amusement we have learned that one of the Presidential candidates has done a first that no Presidential candidate has ever done before. Namely have an official policy about “carnal knowledge of the rear opening” (anal sex in the rest of the world). On the other hand we have an official government policy on the amount of bread to eat. Politicians seem to have to little to do, and it is a worldwide decease.

          When I go to China I often have the “luck” of touring chinese factories. I wish I did not have to do that, but the proud owners want to parade around them with foreign devils in suits. Probably good for management morale or something. Sad thing is that when you look at the workers you see the hatred in their eyes. China is two steps from exploding, the workers there hate the guts of everyone. Period. I understand them, they basically work 364 days 14 hour shfts in a row for a couple of bowls of rice and so little money that it is slavery. Only day off is chinese new year. One day China will be gone.

          • Throughout all of China’s history… the “mandate of heaven” has always figured prominantly. Anytime that the people overwhelmingly felt that whoever was in charge had lost that
            mandate… they didn’t stay in power much longer.

            To us, this “mandate” is like the idea of the King being granted rule by heavenly design. Its not exact, but a similar concept. Whever is in charge stays in charge as long as they keep bad stuff from happening.

            I imagine that a similar idea was at work in Pharonic Egypt. the Romans just made themselves “gods” (it worked for the Egyptians, so why not?)… the best example of that futility was “little boots.” (Caligula), A true sociopath if there ever was one.

            That makes me wonder how the series of nasty quakes China has had over the years has played into the current “mandate”

          • Regarding policemen from outer Space (or was it prison?)

            At a gas station in Ockelbo Sweden they had one of the usual runners from paying the petrol. After checking the survailance video the owner of the gas station recognized the car and drove after the miscreants.
            After stoping the car he got out and walked up to the driver and calmly informed him that he was arrested for petrol theft. Only problem with the arrest was that the nearest policemen where the culprits.
            I would say that constitutes a bad day at work, being a police offiicer and getting caught stealing.

          • “One might think that with all of the human ingeniouty the poor zap would have come up with something slightly nicer to carnaly know than a picnic table.”

            A tree-stump with a wasp’s nest? :mrgreen:

  14. Things are a little more gentle and without too much aggression here in the UK……… From our local English evening newspaper……
    Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her knickers. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend. (The Manchester Evenings News)

    I found one from Ireland too. Their Police stick by the rules come what may….
    Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It’s a special branch vehicle and they don’t want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)

    We Brits are reknown for being eccentric and here is a man after my own heart…… No unseemly riots for us Plebs ( Class snobbery has reared it’s ugly head again here! )…. but revenge on the financial giants is sweet when served cold……

    After being charged £20 for a £10 overdraft, 30-year-old Michael Howard of Leeds changed his name by deed poll to “Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards”. The bank has now asked him to close his account, and Mr. Bastards has asked them to repay the 69p balance, by cheque, made out in his new name. (The Guardian)

    • Oh my…
      You just gotta love a man like that. If there where only more Mr Bastards out there the bankers would become rather nicer quickly.

      I read that the adopted son of Sir David Gilmour was released from jail resentely after a personal riot due to his author father (not Sir David) renouncing him. As well as receiving 16 months of prison his father (Sir David) forced him to change his appearance into Harry Potter. Here you can see the supportive Sir David accompanying the formerly “LSD-tripping rioting Harry Potter”.

      Edit: Notice how amused Sir David look in the picture? He really has mastered the quiet calm and sense of humour that only a rockstar billionaire who is used to have 4 million people in one single audience can have. Or he found his sons antics amusing, perhaps he felt that there is a bit of hope in the youngsters of today since the actual reason for the riot was protests against tuition fees at Cambridge. But, Sir David for the love of Queen and Country Potterified his son into oblivion for good measure.

  15. OT: I hope Sam and all in the North-East of England are surviving the storm which is now into its second day there. I just heard on the news that schools are closing and police are advising people not to travel in Durham and Northumberland. Shame we can’t send all this rain (one month’s worth in 24 hours) to the States.

    • It’s on it’s way over the Pennines towards us. At the moment just a constant downpour but no winds. Spare a thought for all postmen who, here in the uk, by Law HAVE to deliver the Royal Mail or face dismissal and even a prison sentence for withholding the Mail……
      My husband is one and on foot. He will come home today drenched, cold and very tired…..I wonder how many complaints he will receive about delivering wet letters!!! Seriously that happens frequently.
      He actually likes his job. Managers are rarely seen so he is left alone to do his job and in good weather it is pleasant. Winter however is another story, but he is well prepared.

      I do not understand how this one got into the Dungeon. Mysterious. /VC

      • Have you been forgetting to set the gremlin and troll traps again? It’s not good enough! A dragon takes a well earned break and theose little varmints are running riot.

        • Just a small infestation of Voles. Nothing that not a large bank of phasers and some photon torpedoes can’t take care of. Engage Warp 7 Mr Sulu!
          (Still happy about the Alcubierre-White Warp Engine)

          This is a Vole!

          Vole Closeup!

          • Good uniform… This may deter 2012 ers and others who may want to link Volcanic eruptions to excess vegetable consumption, UFO fly pasts and disturbance of the earth’s magnetic field by over-use of mobile phones.

  16. Thanks Nathan for all the info about the mud volcano. Never saw anything about it on the news (probably not enough casualties), so I’m glad you wrote about it!

  17. Speaking of the mud volcano when I was going to University, I was, in the summer for a
    couple of years, a Driller’s helper, drilling water wells in NE Oregon. My boss, who was and still is a good friend of mine and I were working in an area of the Grand Ronde valley, that had artesian
    (not sure spelling spell- check can’t handle it- not enough coffee,) Aquifer, Our competitor just across the road , was drilling a 12 in irrigation well. Nice setup all the whistles and bells, big rig.
    they were drilling and placing casing, at this point about 280 ft./100 m or so.when this thing
    erupted blowing the casing out- all of it and flooding the field below it. we were uphill and just watched the show. after a couple of days some of the pressure was relieved and they got it capped. The owner of the well?- kid now sells bottled water there…
    Never forgot that sight of the casing coming out of the ground..

  18. The BTC pipeline runs through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In a hazards survey, one of the dangers that were mentioned were mud volcanoes. I’ve mentioned this before. According to the study, they have been known to erupt, and on occasion, belch flames. (literally) The lasting question that I had, was how? With out an ignition source, how does a flammable mix of gas catch fire?

    Static electricity is possible. It also turns out that it may have a tendency to light up due to Phosphine (PH3) and Diphosphane (P2H4). Diphosphane spontaneously burns in air. This would also explain how swamp gas can light off by itself. Phosphorus is used in plant and animal metabolism. (ADP and ATP) So, it only seems reasonable that it would show up as a byproduct of decaying material.

    “Phosphine has been reported to have the odor of decaying fish or garlic at concentrations below 0.3 ppm.”

    • Since I am the proud owner of a burning swamp I can answer that question for you.
      As methane percolates out of the gunk of rotting crap it is sometimes lit on fire by something as prozaic as the common lightning.
      My little piece of stinking gunkwater normally is not on fire, but after a thunderstorm it normally burns quite happily for a while. The reason for it (my own deduction) is that after a while the pocket of methane has emptied out and the flame dies out. The reason behind my reasoning is that the bubbling and the flames tend to move about as new pockets start leaking.
      It is quite spectacular to see a piece of stinkwater burning with blue flames in the night.

      I would guess that the BTC pipeline runs over similar conditions, and that the gas is lighted by the regions frequent thunderstorms.

      If you wonder how a burning swamp smells. Imagine this. Take a blue whale, feed it bean stew and fully rotten bananas for a month, then put a torch to the part that “Romney has an official policy about” and then stand in the flaming exhaust. It will make you come to the conclusion that the human nose was never a good idea.

      Edit: Romney might be a nice guy somewhere, and might make a good president for all I know. But, from a European cultural standpoint having an “Official policy upon carnal knowledge in the back door” is fairly hilarious. As stated before, we have a governmental policy on bread intake. Politicians should Officialy stay out of bedrooms and kitchens.

      • Funny that about Romney: he is known in UK for saying that we wouldn’t be able to run the Olympics properly and for saying that he could see the Olympic Stadium from the “backside” of 10 Downing Street. Brits reserve this word for that area of the human anatomy that Romney thinks has a “back door”! (Also he couldn’t see the stadium – he could only see the Beach Volleyball grandstand). 😀

        • I think I will grab hold of some old official governmental movies about sex and send him. He would probably start war on Sweden after that… 🙂

          Here we have used pretty much any word for something sexual by now, so the topic has kind of lost it’s lustre except among 11 year old boys who are afraid of the “cooties”, what is here known as “Girl germs”. Something that is seriously dreaded among eleven year old boys. This dread seems to be uniform across the planet. One of the cross-cultural oddities that will lead to an emergant world culture down the line.

        • He didn’t say that you couldn’t run the Olympics properly. He stated that there could be some issues. Keep in mind that this was in the time frame when the primary security company had shown evidence of not being able to do the job properly and that manpower augmentation had to be brought in from other UK government sources.

          All the rest of it is media hype.

          And as you know, the media never gets anything wrong.

      • Oddly enough, the fascination about the statement must be outside the US. I have yet to hear it reported here.

        The only sodomize subject that I have heard about is what reportedly happened to our Ambassador prior to him being used as a photo opportunity prop for the incumbent… sort of like Gerlado Rivera and the tree limb that he was dragging around trying to set up his broadcast scenery for the pending hurricane landfall news segment in downtown Pensacola.

        • Funny thing is that over the last 150 years, there has only been one great president who was a Democrat, JFK, while the republicans have had many – Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Nixon and Reagan to name four. The two worst presidents, Wilson and FDR, were also Democrats. Fancy that.

          • I do not agree on FDR though. Without FDR you and I would have been wearing black uniforms with shiny shoes and speak German. We would also have children named Helmut und Helga. And all 88 channels on TV would do reruns of Wagner.

            I would though add Dwight D to the list. And, of course my personal favourite Millard Fillmore (Whig), the only thing he did was adding California to US without anybody being killed. Otherwise he did nothing, something that politicians should do on a grander scale (the nothing part, and the not dying part too come to think of it).

          • Most moderate Americans who aren’t politically biased would choose the Clinton years over any of the Bush years (jr. or sr). That’s not to say Clinton was perfect, but considering the last two republican presidents both took the USA to controversial wars, presided during the worst economic crash of the last 75 years, and also increased income inequality more than any other presidents in the last 50 years, most Americans I know have a pretty sour taste in their mouth about the Republican party. Also, don’t get me wrong, I know that not everything there was entirely their fault (I don’t believe in favoring a party). Clinton takes some blame in the economic crash, and Bush going to war was at least partly necessary post 9/11 (although not to the extent which occurred), but it goes to show how muddled pointing the finger becomes when talking politics.

            Another thing, How was FDR one of the the worst presidents? I guess leading the United States out of the great depression and being a thorn in the side of Adolf Hitler means you’re a bad president?

            Either way, with everything said, you really can’t evaluate a single party in modern terms based on actions of individuals that took place over 80 years ago. Times have changed a lot in the last 80 years, and you really can’t pass judgments based on current parties based off what happened before our parents were alive.

          • @Cbus20122
            To quote the incredulous and shtumped French President when asked about Clinton: “He only had one mistress?”
            As said, it might be the only great cultural difference between Europe and the North Americas.
            Or perhaps not really. Our fascinations with americans fascination with anything remotely connected to sex, is in its own way rather fascinating. :mrgreen:

            I am as noted rather opposed to Henriks view on FDR, he saved our asses and liberated Europe. He also fixed the US economy (and thereby pretty much the entire planets economy) and is one guy I would by a beer, and it would not be a small one.

          • Carl, I’d love to erudite you about the true merits and achievements of FDR, not the pap touted as the “official truth”, but not here. One thing though – the man who “saved our asses” was Winston Churchill. Were it not for him, and him alone, England would have sued for peace in June 1940. Only his indomitable will and belief in a free world stood between Hitler and victory that year and never forget it!

          • Winston Churchill was probably the only person who cheered with Pearl Harbor was bombed. He practically parked his butt outside FDR’s door trying to convince him to get into the war. He knew that without the Americans, England would be defeated. I give him the utmost credit for his perseverance and ability to keep the homeland’s hope alive. It was almost like he knew that somehow, someway he would succeed. Don’t think he thought that the Japanese would do it for him, though.

          • “Clinton”… yeah bombing the crap out of Serbia in order to direct attention away from a dress stain. Good move there.

            Clinton had the luck of riding the Dot-Com bubble…. money from which went into flipping properties and accumulating personal debt, mandating lower lending requirements so that everybody could buy a home… even those who had no hope of paying it off. In fact, that financial crisis came about when those toxic loans could no longer be repackaged and sold off as investemt products. (various tranches with various risks) All estimated by the infamous Gaussian Coupola…. and being based off the Normal Curve…. didn’t pay attention to the fat tails and the inevitable Black Swan that lurks there….

          • Bobbi, long before the fact (IIRC it was before the collapse of France), Sir WSC in one of his memorable speeches said that “The New World will come to the rescue of the Old”. As you say, he relised that without the industrial might of the USA, the war could not be won.

          • Lurking, after having served in Bosnia (a war started by Serbia) and before that the Croat Serbian war… I say that bombing Serbia was a jolly good idea and should have been done before. After all, Serbia started no less than 3 wars, and would if not having been bombed to smitherins have started a fourth and a fifth sooner or later.
            No, I write up Serbia as one of Clintons better moments.

        • Yeah, I guess it is a cultural thing and that US reporters didn’t even lift an eyebrow.
          It is one of the very few subjects where there is an actual difference between the north americas (including Canada) and Europe. Otherwise we tend to be quite the same in the end. Ie, we all drink something with ethanol when coming home.

          • Our illicit non-taxed ethanol industry spawned a National sport. – Stock Car racing.

            Though there never was anything really “stock” about them. The initial goal was to outrun the police at all costs in order to get the moonshine to market.

          • I didn’t know Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhart were Moonshine bootleggers. Cheers for filling that gap in my education! 😉

          • In response to Clinton, as mentioned it just goes to show how you cant credit the current state of a country off who is currently in office. It also gives an example of how textbook economics dont work out in the real world. Basic Economic theory assumes a perfect world where people spend money they save, and dont store it in offshore investments or accounts. The tea party dream that an economy without some regulation will actually self regulate and benefit all involved is the most ridiculous thought in the world. Im all in favor of smaller govt, but you cant deregulate everything and assume crap like clinton’s lending deregulation will work out in the long run.

          • @cbus20122

            Many of the needed regulations were put in place for a reason… things like the “uptick rule” which tended to quell hostile stock trading (via short sales). Worked fine until some idiot eliminated it.

            A couple of rules that I would put in place, if I were the ultimate ruler, would be the banishment of all lawyers from the law making process, and a permanent ban on any one employed in the securities and banking industry from holding a position in government related to banking and securities.

            Never happen… but one can dream.

          • @ Oliver St John-Mollusc:

            Petty, Yarborough, Earnhart and the others came along long after the sport went mainstream. The early years are what I was referring to.


            Johnson was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, the fourth of seven children of Lora Belle Money and Robert Glenn Johnson, Sr. His father, a lifelong bootlegger, spent nearly twenty of his sixty-three years in prison, as their house was frequently raided by revenue agents. Junior spent one year in prison in Ohio for having an illegal still, although he was never caught in his many years of transporting bootleg liquor at high speed.

  19. @Carl at 17:22
    “Our fascinations with americans fascination with anything remotely connected to sex, is in its own way rather fascinating.”

    What fascinates me is the total ignorance shown by some who are supposed to be smart enough to run this country. There is a guy running for the U. S. Senate who actually stated on a news interview that in the case of a “legitimate” rape, the woman’s body has a way of preventing a pregnancy from that rape. Case closed in his mind for not allowing abortion even in the event of rape. If a women gets pregnant then it must not be a “legitimate” rape. You have to wonder which rock this guy crawled out from under.

    • That was widely reported in Britain – the media here are mostly anti-Republican so we are not usually shown any reasonable Republicans. We tend to get stories about the ones with weird ideas. In the same way, we only get reasonable, erudite, Democrats so we don’t know if they also have odd (to our way of thinking) ideas.

    • What would a legitimate rape be??? When I look up the word “legitimate”, I get “in accordance with law”. The guy considers rape as lawful? What kind of law does he refer to?

      • His English is a wooly as his thinking. I think he believes that it’s only ‘rape’ if a woman fights until near-death rather than submit. Otherwise it’s not rape. He clearly lives a very sheltered life or has no daughters or sisters.

          • Agreed, and I get to vote for his opponent! But this state generally leans toward the right, so he may still have a chance. 😯

          • Dunno… his opponent openly admits to accumulating $287,000 in back property taxes on the family aircraft. Used “often for purely political purposes, and bills the taxpayers for the flights.” Elsewhere “McCaskill has cultivated a reputation as a figure devoted to standing against corruption. After all, she was the state auditor before she became senator; and has developed a populist brand attacking the excesses of the wealthy.”

            From Wikipedia (which become dubious with things political)

            In April 2002, McCaskill married St. Louis businessman Joseph Shepard. Shepard lent $1.6 million to McCaskill’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign and also had business interests in the nursing home industry. Because as state auditor McCaskill was responsible for auditing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the state’s nursing home system,

            Akin’s problem is that he bought into the lunatic theory of an 83+ year old General Practitioner and parroted that “legitimate rape” theory, which anyone trained in the field in the last 50 years will tell you is a crock of shit. And no, he didn’t mean “legal rape,” that’s ludicrous. A better term would have been “bona-fide,” but that doesn’t change the stupidity of it.

    • rock: planet Earth.

      back to OT politics: this is the kind of stuff I strongly dislike in american Republicans. This and the war mind. Its oldfashioned monkey thinking.

      • but dont get me wrong. I really like the idea or original Republicans, the fraterny, freedom and independence. But nowadays present ideals are so far removed from those. Its mostly economics, agressiveness and social conservadorism. Totally different stuff from the Founding Fathers.

        • When I saw Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”, I realized that America has a wonderful constitution. A great potential for a great country. What happened to it?

          • My personal opinion is money and media. It costs a LOT of money to run for office. This presidential campaign is spending billions of dollars by both parties. And if a person does win an election, he/she is already planning for re-election 4 years from now. The average person who might have real ideas and the desire to make this country better doesn’t have a chance to compete. Many won’t run for office because they won’t put their families under the constant microscope of the media. About the only privacy public officials still have is what time they use the bathroom. It really is a sad state of affairs that needs drastic reforms.

    • Sounds like ‘ducking stool’ justice…………. If she lives she’s guilty – or if it lives she must have wanted it…………..

    • Bobbi, I saw that. But, it was so sad that I would never try to make a light banter out of it. We had a Christian Minister sprouting the same idea, probably some common rock those two crawled out under.

  20. That was widely reported in Britain. Our media is, on the whole, anti-Republican so their ultra-extreme ideas get reported here as the norm. Likewise we only get the calm, considered Democrats and so have no idea if they also have a few with weird (to our way of thinking) ideas.

  21. UFO fly-pasts?!?


    ‘Hot rocks’ to you guys and gals! If I can’t find them in the ground I’ll just settle for seeing them in the sky……………

    • perfactly obvious now you mention it, then we are plain hot rock ´oholics 🙂
      One anomaly with UFO terminolgigy,is, if indentified as unindentified, so that cancels out the U. And we have Flying Objects ! Nothing mysterious with flying object, is there?

    • There might be something else to look at soon ….. NASA reports that a new comet has been spotted and it might be bright enough to see with the naked eye in November. 😀

    • Ok. Comets are nice – mostly Ice (like flying glacier) – saw one some years ago, just like speck in the night sky. The Universe is full of … mostly nothing … yet so mysterious. *Was watching TV series on the universe last night, so have had refresher*
      Anyone dare wake Carl re Hekla ? He must be lurking tonight on some secret website monitoring it all …

      • I saw Halleys Comet in the southern hemisphere back in the 1980’s which wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be and then Comet Kuhotek (can’t remember spelling) in the late 1990’s. This one was fabulous – it spread right across the sky – but I could see why they are regarded as omens or portents of world-changing events.

      • Nope, I was napping.
        But, secret website says that it is nothing happening at Hekla.
        Always look at percentages.

        Edit: And regarding wakeing up, you are the only one who can do that Islander… 😉

        • 🙂 Napping is good! but do not get caught napping on the … job… was looking at them not so secret ones ,,,,, nothing there (no bucket splashing needed I think @Lamiah).
          But small think outside the box, there was from six-days ago to three days, some horizontal movements at Heklurætur GPS (last update 22 Sep) shows some centimeters in horizontal , with a little down too. If third quake comes, I seriously think go nearer to see if anything happens. Been a while I did so. Conviniently this was prediction from 12:00 UTC today.

          • If I nap on the job there is nobody who can say anything 😉
            I fairly often nap at work to be honest. Otherwise I would grow incoherent fast. So, soon more napping untill morning train leaves for a round of meetings in the south.

  22. I too am watching Hekla…..and listening to the constant rain. It hasn’t stopped all day.
    If we are now talking Poltics, I think the bravest and wisest thing any western government could do is to introduce a Sugar Tax to help lessen deficits
    This would immediately make sugar the new target for organised Gangs and we would see Sugar addicts needing their daily sugar rush and the opiate drugs become less in demand..
    A huge wedge o western f society is addicted so they would never give it up. Therefore it would help solve the obesity problem and also other aspects of national health. There would of course then be a huge new cottage industry of growing other sugar producing crops, bees would become sought after, the countryside would prosper. Economies would be kick- started in a very healthy way. :D.

    Wellllllllll! Pretty well everything else is taxed……….

    • And, having politicians obsessed with what we eat (remember, we have government policy on bread), have us having a rather prolonged debate upon sugar and fat taxes.
      The idea is to insert a tax on anything that contains sugar or fat above a certain level.
      Personally I don’t mind that since I rarely eat any of it.
      Swedes are fairly simple, we take any stupid thing politicians come up with, up unto the point someone suggests coffee tax. Then we kill them and dig them down quite deep and elect new moroons.

    • It’s funny what we humans spend our money on and complain about what one’s government spends smaller amounts on. F’rinstance, in the late 1960s US women spent more money on “beauty products” annually the Uncle Sam did on the Apollo program. Swedes spend more on sweets than on defence.

      I’m all in favour of a a very substantial tax increase on both sweets and “beauty products”. Not to mention a 2000% percent punitive tax on McDonalds.

        • The funniest thing I saw… were the chain and leather clad bikers on Vespas. They had a couple of actual bikes… but I think the largest one was 200cc… with full fairings.

          I’m not saying the city. We sat quietly in the bar and laughed our arses off.

        • For one, McDonalds should pay their employees a fair wage, one commesurate with both working hours and the rest of the market. Second, they put sugar everything, even salads, as it’s addictive. Third, their food is distinctly unwholesome as proven by Morgan Spurlock. Fourth, the rise of McDonalds (and its competitors) coincides with a dramatic increase in obesity – with its attendant ilnesses – across the western world. Fifth, they’re so economically powerful they can twist legislation in their favour, legislation that is incompatible with a democratic state.

          My idea for a good Guy Fawkes protest would be the simultaneous dropping of 50-pound bags of popcorn into ever McDonalds deep frier worldwide

  23. I do not believe in those quakes at Hekla. The percentages are very poor, and the strength put’s them in a cathegory that it could have been a car door slammed. Nothin other pointing towards anything happening either.
    So, nope it is not happening this time around either.

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