A toxic mud volcano has been flowing on the Indonesian island of Java for 18 months, and authorities are stuck. Since an energy company opened an underground fissure while drilling for natural gas, 11 villages have been swamped by the ooze. Plugging the hole with air-dropped concrete balls and hiring mystics to employ supernatural means are among the failed measures.
Dams and levees are currently containing the muck, the Economist reports; Japanese scientists have plotted a 130-foot dam in the hopes that a sea of hardening mud might be heavy enough to staunch the flow. Meanwhile, the government has ordered the energy company to pay $412 million to the 16,000 displaced villagers—though they must wait two years for 80% of the money.