Another Lusi Update

From the perspective of this paper’s publication, my cross-country move was badly timed. Since my email access has been so sporadic over the past couple weeks, I missed chances to help edit the press release and do a couple of interviews.

The press seems to have done just fine without me (except that no reporters have found my blog – or at least, no reporters have found it interesting). The Boston Globe has a nice photo set. What’s weird, though, is watching the quotes from various officials at the company whose borehole we claim is responsible for the disaster.

In an article in the Financial Times, Lapindo acknowledges that its personnel made mistakes during drilling immediately before the eruptions – but of course, does not admit that those mistakes caused the eruption. Meanwhile, Reuters has a choice quote from one of their technical experts:

“Experts opinion, Davies and others, that concluded that the burst came from the drilling well is based on a study that used the wrong data and assumption,” Edy Sutriono, drilling expert at Lapindo, told a news conference.

“Wrong data”? That, my dear readers, is a mentita.

It’s also hilarious. While I don’t know which data Sutriono (or anyone else at Lapindo) thinks are wrong, our paper is based largely on a combination of public records, like the earthquake catalogs maintained by the NEIC, and data about the drilling that was kindly provided by… Lapindo.

Police in Indonesia are thinking about using our paper as evidence in a criminal prosecution. I think it would be nice if our work eventually ends up helping the victims of the mud volcano, but I’m not holding my breath.


  1. BrianR wrote:

    Wrong data? What does that even mean?

  2. Maria wrote:

    I don’t know! But whatever it means, I’d be pretty embarrassed if I thought it were true.

  3. Helen wrote:

    Damn, that’s funny.

    On a less funny note, how is the mud in Iowa treating you? Are you and yours doing ok?

  4. mud victim wrote:

    Here’s Lapindo way of logic about u’r studies.
    Lead author never came to disaster sites, than you must be using secondary data. This is off course not entirely true, since Prof Rubiandini was head of investigation Team, and at least Prof Davies and Dr Tingay at least visit the site once. And also Davies said that visiting sites at this time of the incident is not relevant with the objective of obtaining correct data.
    In line with the first assumption, Lapindo also maintain that all data available (official or not) about this disaster is not accurate, or merely based on interpretation. The reason they insist on this stance is that they pretty sure that the ‘real’ data is still in their possession. It’s weird though while they keep saying that any analysis differ from theirs is not accurate, they haven’t publish the ‘true’ data, to really finished off other theory.
    Anyway, your work indeed helping the victim though for many it might be a little too late (but hey, better late than never, right). The study had warm-up again public opinion and media coverage to this disaster, thus bring pressure to the authorities to continue prosecuting the case.
    You also might want to join with Friends of Lapindo Victims Group at

    Rgds from Sidoarjo,

    PS : How can i contact you directly?

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