The island nation of Indonesia is dominated by beautiful active volcanoes since time immemorial. One such eerily dazzling volcanic eruption in Indonesia will leave you awestruck and make you believe the fascinating wonders of nature. The thirteenth largest island in the world, Java houses the mysterious blue volcano that lights up the night skies in Indonesia.
Kawah Ijen, a volcano on the island of Java, erupts electric-blue fire which flows down the slopes, making an illusion of lava flowing. It is often seen streaming down the mountain at night attracting crowds of tourists and photographers.
Below you can watch a video documentation of the burning blue volcano:
Olivier Grunewald, a Paris-based photographer has been documenting the fascinating Kawah Ijen volcano for several years. The photographer explained that the blue glow isn’t exactly lava. It is actually the light produced from the combustion of sulfuric gases. Such gases emerge from cracks in the volcano at a high pressure and temperature—up to 1,112°F (600°C).
The light is produced when the gases emerge out of the volcanic cracks of the volcano and come in contact with the oxygen-rich atmospheric air. He further explains that some gases condense into liquid sulfur and continue to burn as it flows down the slopes giving the illusion of lava flowing.
The unusual blue hue is due to the presence of an active solfatara which emits strong gases with high levels of sulphur. The burning happens day and night, but it’s visible to the naked eyes only in darkness.
Apparently, the blue is best seen at night, which is why many tourists make their way to the crater to see this unique phenomenon, after sunset. Grunewald took these captivating photos sans filters on them so what you see here right now, is natural beauty in its truest form! The pictures are mesmerizing and stunningly beautiful.
The gases from the volcano often react with the water resulting in a low pH of 0.5. There lies Kawah Ijen Crater Lake, the largest known acidic crater lake which is rich in hydrochloric acid and gives it the green colour.
In fact, its bluish-greenish colour is also a result of a very high concentration of dissolved metals along with HCl. On cooling down, the gases leave sulfur deposits around the lake as a residue.
When can you visit the volcano?
Visitors typically make their way to the crater after sunset. Although the flame burns throughout the day, the blue hue is best visible during the night time. Usually, people prefer to take the two-hour hike post-midnight, so to avoid the scorching heat of the sun during the day.
We don’t know when we can travel again but we are definitely putting this on our bucket list of travel destinations. If you plan to visit this unique volcano, don’t forget to pack a gas mask and eye-protective gear for safety, as the gases might compromise your vision and breathing.
It is advised to maintain a safe distance from the sulphur fumes one you reach there. Find yourself a safe spot to sit and do not remove your mask while you experience the surreal electric blue flame and lava.
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