Indonesia's disastrous mud volcano is collapsing on itself, according to new research released on the second anniversary of the ever-growing environmental catastrophe.
Each day, 100,000 cubic metres of hot, stinking sludge continues to ooze from the mystifying mud volcano, which burst through the earth two years ago during deep drilling at a nearby exploratory well, linked to Indonesia's richest man and also part-owned by Australian company Santos.
The grey-brown ooze now covers seven square kilometres in heavily populated East Java.
It has swallowed 11 villages, including thousands of homes, businesses, paddy fields and mosques.
Now a new report warns the bleak, sodden landscape is sinking - and could subside by as much as 146 metres over the coming years.
It has subsided four centimetres each day for more than a year due to the sheer weight of the mud, and the collapse of a layer of rock as mud gushes from beneath it, says the report, by Durham University UK and Indonesia's Institute of Technology Bandung.
But there also have been sudden collapses of up to three metres in some areas.
Scientists warn that as it sinks, new faults are forming,
allowing water to spurt to the surface in previously
Co-author Professor Richard Davies said the sudden collapses indicated the beginnings of a caldera, or large crater formed by the subsidence of the volcano's cone.
"The most negative effects of the collapse are that new faults are forming," Davies said.
"This is allowing new conduits of fluid and gas to come to the surface.
"Outside the mud volcano there are actually new vents forming, water is suddenly spurting to the surface.
"Basically the mud volcano has a life of its own now."
He hoped future research would focus on how long the mud volcano would continue to spew sludge.
"I suspect it will carry on in some form, even at very slow rates of eruption, probably for decades," he said.
"The mud volcano was initially man-made, but now its a huge system that is effectively natural - it's formed its own natural plumbing system and I don't think there is any feasible way of stopping it now."
A study by Durham University last year found the mud eruption was "almost certainly man-made", and caused by the exploratory drilling.
But the well's operator Lapindo - linked to the powerful family of Indonesia's Public Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie - has long argued it was a natural disaster, a claim backed by a Jakarta court ruling last year.
Those closest to the disaster, refugees sheltering in a former market in nearby Porong, will mark the two-year anniversary with an early morning prayer at the mud site Thursday.
Many are yet to receive any compensation.
"I'm still living in the refugee camp of Pasar Baru," says 31-year-old Siti Mukaidah, whose house was buried by mud in Renokenongo village.
"I haven't received any (money), not even money for rent.
"It is now the commemoration of two years of the flow, so we will gather to pray at the mud dam."