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Mudflow: Understanding, Process, Causes, and Impacts

by Widiya

Natural disasters are natural events that cause a lot of losses or negative impacts. The losses arising from this nature can be either material or non-material. There are almost no regions where natural disasters have never occurred. This is because natural disasters are God’s power that cannot be avoided by humans.

There are many kinds of natural disaster. Some occurred on land, some occurred in the ocean. Indonesia is a country that has many regions with diverse characteristics. Regional characteristics that exist in Indonesia include landscapes. Because of the characteristics of different landscapes, natural disasters that occur in each regions also vary. Some natural disasters that often occur in Indonesia include floods, landslides, volcanoes, forest fires, and Earthquakes. These natural disasters can occur every year even though the area is different.

Natural Disasters that Often Occur in Indonesia

One of the natural disasters that often occur in Indonesia is flood. Yes, flood has indeed been like an annual natural disaster which always hit several regions in Indonesia. Indonesia is a country that has only two seasons, namely drought and rain. In the rainy season, this flood will often occur, especially in large cities with very little vacant land.

Floods are known as excessive amounts of water, so they overflow to soak various areas, including residential areas. But, did you know that there are several types of flood? Yes, floods are not only about water overflowing due to heavy rain or broken dams. It turns out that flood brings along some materials, so it is divided into several types. Some types of floods that we know include flash floods, tidal floods, cold lava floods, and mudflows. On this occasion, we will discuss one specific type of flood. The type of flood that we will discuss is mudflows.

Understanding Mudflows

We certainly already know what mud is. Mud is something that is shaped like a liquid and slippery soil. Mud is usually brown or gray and we can find it at the bottom of a water source or puddle, such as rivers, lakes, dams, and so on.

Mudflow is a flood of water which contains a lot of mud. When viewed from its appearance, these mud volcanoes are tantamount since these types of floods carry a lot of mud which is more than usual flood in general. Because of the large amount of mud transported, this is called mudflow. This mudflow is usually light brown or slightly yellowish indicating the amount of mud being transported. This mudflow causes greater risk and greater losses. The danger of this mud flood is due to a large amount of mud that makes the environment more slippery than usual. More losses are caused because the goods or all objects that are passed will be submerged by mud and look very dirty.

The Process of the Mudflows

Similar to the other floods, this mudflow can also be caused by something that triggered the mudflow. This mudflow can occur through the accumulation of sediments in sedimentary agricultural soils which are then separated from sediments and transported as fixed material or buildup on the riverbed. Mud deposition in this mud flood is not very visible. The new sludge will be seen clearly or known when the flood has reached the inhabited area.

The occurrence of mudflow is caused by several things:

  1. One of the most common things that cause this mudflow is heavy rain which flushes muddy areas that have the potential to release mud. Some areas that have the potential to generate mud are agricultural areas or hills whose land is easily muddy when it rains.
  2. Apart from rain interference, one of the things that causes mud floods is the emergence of mud from the Earth. This mud comes out by itself through a gap or hole in the ground so that there will be a lot of mud coming out to the surface of the Earth and filling the soil that is on the surface of the Earth. If the mud comes out continuously, then there is no effort to handle it, it will be able to sink whatever is in the area. Cases like this have often been encountered and are not surprising at all.

Characteristics of Mudflows

The types of floods do have their own characteristics, including mudflow. Even if it is seen from its appearance, mudflow is no different from other floods. But, if we pay close attention, the mudflow has quite a striking difference with other floods. Some of the characteristics of the mudflow include:

  1. Floods Consist of or Contain a Lot of Mud

The first and most inherent characteristic of mud floods is that they contain a lot of mud. The material carried by majority of flood is mud. Because of these characteristics, the possibility of the term mudflow is used. The mud content is carried far more than usual because the levels of the sludge contained are numerous; therefore this mudflow looks thicker than the flooding that usually occurs. In addition, this mudflow does not run like a flood in general because there is a lot of mud mixed there.

  1. Floods Look Thicker than Floods that Usually Occur

If the mudflow is observed from its appearance, it will look thicker than the water flooding that generally occurs. This is because of the large amount of mud material carried by the flood. Because, basically mud is something that looks fluid but thick, especially if the mud in the flood is mud that comes out of the bowels of the Earth through holes. The mud that comes out directly from the bowels of the Earth is not too much mixed with water. As a result, the flood will look thicker.

  1. Derived from Fields Containing Clay or Mud

Mudflows have the characteristic of originating from agricultural lands containing mud and then being washed away by water from falling rain. Besides, this mudflow can also come from mud that comes directly from inside the Earth through holes or gaps in the soil layer.

  1. More Slippery than General Flooding

Mudflows are also a type of flood that has a slippery characteristic compared to other types of flooding. The slipperiness that arises comes from the mud contained by the flood. We ourselves know that mud has slippery properties, so mud floods will automatically cause slippery properties more than other floods.

  1. Many Leave Dirt in the Area Soaked by Flooding

Floods always leave many losses, not only material losses but also non-material. One of the disadvantages of non-material losses is the dirtiness of all objects that are passed by the flood. Both the floods only passed (occurred in a very short time) or had time to soak the area or the area it passed.

The abundant content of the flood will be very easy to pollute various objects or land that it passes. As a result, the environment will become dirtier.

Causes of Mudflows

Although it is known as a natural disaster, it turns out that flooding can also be caused by various factors. The factors that cause this flood can come from nature or from human behavior itself. In general, there are several causes of flooding or factors that support flooding. Some of the factors that trigger flooding include:

  1. River Overflow

One of the things that caused the flood was because the river did not contain enough of the incoming water discharge, this would cause the river water to overflow and then a flood occurred. The flooding caused by overflowing river water is usually preceded by heavy rainfall in the upper reaches of the river.

(Also read: 15 Effects of Ocean Pollution on Human Health Which Need to Be Noticed)

  1. Floods Occur in the Estuary

The second cause of flooding is the presence of flooding in the river estuary first. The estuary is a meeting between the river and the sea. When the river mouth is flooded or overflowed, then the surrounding area will also potentially experience flooding.

(Also read: 13 Effects of Ocean Water as An Irrigation Supplement)

  1. The Overflow of Seawater or High Tides

Tidal seawater is also one of the causes of flooding. Floods that occur because of the overflow of seawater are called tidal floods. Because the water that comes is seawater, the tidal flood looks clearer than the other floods.

  1. Natural Disasters

Flood is one type of natural disaster, and the occurrence of this flood can also be caused by other natural disasters that trigger flooding. Natural disasters that can trigger flooding include the breakdown of reservoirs or dams that contain large amounts of water. The breakdown of dams or reservoirs can also be triggered due to heavy rain and for a long time.

  1. Human Behavior

Floods can also be caused by human activities that often carelessly behave in the environment. Some human activities that often bring floods are littering, logging forests wildly, and so on.

(Also read: Coastal Pollution: Understanding, Causes, Impacts, and Prevention)

  1. Deforestation

Illegal logging can cause flooding. This means that the impact of illegal logging will also trigger flooding. Trees function to absorb water into the soil. If trees in the forest are cleared, this will cause the risk of flooding.

  1. Damage to the Drainage System or Water Absorption into the Soil

The drainage system or absorption of water into the soil is very necessary to keep the groundwater on the surface of the Earth balanced. If this system is damaged, the water on the ground is not easily absorbed. As a result, when heavy rains occur, the rainwater that falls cannot be absorbed into the soil and it will cause flooding.

Those are some things that can cause the flood. Then, what about mudflows? Are mudflows mentioned by the things mentioned above? The things mentioned above also affect the occurrence of mudflows. However, more specifically, this mudflow occurs because of flooding in the area or land that has a lump of clay or yellow soil structure.

Clay, when moistened or exposed to water, will quickly or easily turn into mud. This yellow mud or clay will be very slippery.

Impact of Mudflows

Mudflow is one type of flood that causes a lot of impacts. Of course, the impact of mud floods is a negative impact. Some of the impacts caused by mudflows include:

  • Damage to the objects passed by the mud.
  • It causes a lot of dirt in the area that is passed or soaked by the flood in the form of mud itself.
  • Many cause various germs.
  • Causes a muddy environment.
  • The potential for causing accidents due to the slippery nature of the mud.
  • Disrupting the survival of plants that grow in fields or land affected by floods.

Those are some of the effects caused by mudflows.

The case of Mudflows in Indonesia

Mudflow is indeed not something that often happens when compared to other floods. But, there are cases in Indonesia regarding this mud flood. This case is very legendary this year; extraordinary and exposed to foreign countries. Even today the cases of the mudflow have not been resolved. The case was a Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java. This mudflow is a hot mudflow. The mud in the flood is the mud that comes out from the bowels of the Earth due to the company’s operational activities. This flood is so large that it sinks 16 villages. Until now, the floods still cannot be overcome.

That is some information about mudflows. Even though it is not covered the whole thing, hopefully, it can provide some useful information.

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