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Unusually high sulfur content causes Kawah Ijen volcano to spew beautiful, brilliant, spectral blue lava

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Kawah Ijen volcano

Kawah Ijen, part of the Ijen volcano complex, is a group of stratovolcanoes in East Java, Indonesia.  With an active crater that’s over 200 meters deep, the volcano complex is also home to the world’s largest turquoise-colored acidic lake, full of sulfuric acid, that produces a highly-unusual effect on the volcano’s lava flows.  Instead of the expected reddish-orange lava flows, Kawah Ijen gushes with brilliant, glowing, electric-blue lava.

The nearby lake is a sulfur mining site where poorly-compensated miners carry sulfur-laden baskets by hand from the crater floor to storage facilities above.  The miners, with little or no safety equipment, work at night to double their meagre income, but they don’t have to worry about the dark since the volcano’s glowing lava flows provide ample glowing bluish-light to illuminate their paths.

Miners monitor the molten sulfur as it flows out of pipes from inside the volcano.  Then they gather the coagulated sulfur, load it up and transport it to the side of the crater.  The crystals are sold at about 680 rupiahs per kilogram (about 5 US cents).  The miners haul up about 80 to 100 kilograms per load, two loads every 24 hours.  The sulfur mined at Kawah Ijen is among the purest in Indonesia, and used in the food and chemical industry.

Check out the wonderfully beautiful pictures of the unusual Kawah Ijen volcano in the photo montage below.

Sources: Wikipedia, Photo Volcanica, Daily Mail, Environmental Graffiti, Volcano Discovery, Boston Magazine,


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