ERC Start up grant 'LUSI LAB'

The spectacular Lusi eruption started in northeast Java the 29 of May 2006 following to a 6.3 M earthquake striking the island. Initially, several gas and mud eruption sites suddenly appeared along a reactivated fault system and within weeks several villages were submerged by boiling mud. The most prominent eruption site was named Lusi. To date Lusi is still active and erupting gas, water, mud and clasts. Despite the work done, still many unanswered questions remain. The objective with this project is to use the newly born and currently ongoing Lusi eruption to better understand the processes ongoing in the eruption conduit, and to understand the interaction between seismicity, faulting and magmatic volcanism.

European Research Council

About the Project

Recent gas analyses from the Lusi active eruption site highlighted that the root of the feeder channel are as deep as 4.5 km. The results are consistent with deep sited magmatic intrusions and hydrothermal fluids, from the neighbouring Arjuno volcanic complex, responsible for the enhanced heat that altered source rocks and/or gas reservoirs.

LUSI LAB is an ambitious project that aims to perform a multidisciplinary study using Lusi as a unique natural laboratory and to unravel unanswered questions . What lies beneath Lusi? If Lusi is not a mud volcano, how large is the connected hydrothermal system? How do the frequent seismic activity and the neighbouring Arjuno Welirang volcanic complex affect the pulsating Lusi behaviour? What are the mechanisms triggering the eruption? How long will the eruption last? Are more eruptions like this one likely to occur?

Due to its relatively easy accessibility, the geological setting, and the vast scale, the Lusi eruption represents an unprecedented opportunity to study and learn from an ongoing active eruptive system. Detailed investigations on erupting features are difficult and have never been carried out before. The results will be crucial for understanding focused fluid flow systems in other sedimentary basins world-wide, and to unravel issues related to geohazards and palaeoclimate aspect

The plumbing system around the Lusi eruption site, Java, Indonesia. Figure: Adriano Mazzini


LUSI LAB will focus on five main aspects in order to complete a comprehensive regional investigation: 1) monitoring on local micro-seismicity related to regional seismicity; 2) monitoring and sampling of the neighbouring volcanic arc; 3) sampling and monitoring of the active Lusi eruption site; 4) monitoring of the fault system originating from the volcanic arc, crossing Lusi and extending to the NE of java island; 5) numerical modelling of Lusi activity and the strike-slip/mgmatic complex system.

In order to achieve the aims, we  use the deployment of multisensory sampling devices within the active feeder channel coupled with a remote-controlled flying device to access and sample the crater and the erupted gases. These data together with a new network of GPS and seismometers, will allow the evaluation of the impact that seismicity, local faulting and the neighbouring Arjuno-Welirang volcanic complex have on the long-lasting Lusi activity. The acquired information will provide robust constraints to model the pulsating Lusi behaviour and will be used as initial step to estimate the longevity of the eruption.


As we already started the study of the Lusi eruption back in 2006, and previously established contacts and collaboration with local authorities, the startup phase of the project has been smooth. We proceeded with the new goals set for the LUSI LAB project. We established cooperation with the INGV in Rome for the construction of the multidisciplinary “Lusi drone” (see next for details). We are now partners with BMKG (see next for details) for the rental and deployment of seismomenters as well as data processing also with ETH in Zurich.

Java: The Lusi mud vulcano, Java, Indonesia. Photo: Adriano Mazzini

We successfully initiated the cooperation with GFZ in Potsdam for 15 additional broad band seismometers that are part of the 30 instruments monitoring network. We are constructing with BPLS the infrastructures for the crater probing. Lusi Lab extends also to microbial studies and we are completing the incubation of microbial colonies sampled from the crater in collaboration with BGR Hannover.


ERC Start up grant. Full name of this Project: Lusi: a unique natural laboratory for multidisciplinary studies of focussed fluid flow in sedimentary basins.

Project period from 1.1.2013 to 31.12.2017.


See the full list of cooperating institutions.

Published May 8, 2015 7:52 PM - Last modified Oct. 31, 2018 4:07 PM