Kawah Ijen Volcano is a name that will make you fall in love with a deadly force of nature so much that you will literally want to take a dip into its molten brew of toxic chemicals burning at high temperature. Sitting in Indonesia’s East Java, the Kawah Ijen is an active volcano, which is a part of a volcano complex (yeah, multiple volcanoes). However, this particular volcano which boasts a caldera of the shape of a cauldron is pretty unusual.
It spews out not lava but lava-like river of fire which has a surreal electric blue color. The color is so magnificent that you will actually want to jump right into it. But before you do so, you should know that jumping into it will mean only one thing – death!
So, what does Kawah Ijen Volcano spews out?
Nice question! It is basic chemistry and the substance that flows out is no lava but sulfur. Oliver Grunewald – a photographer from Paris spent many years documenting the volcano. He said to National Geographic that the blue color is actually a river of fire caused by combustion of sulfuric gases.
He explained that the gasses trapped inside the volcano manage to escape out at extremely high pressure and of course high temperature. Just how hot? The temperature of the gasses can reach as high as 600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the type of temperature that is good enough to burn humans to ashes within moments.
According to Grunewald, these gases when come out from the trapped interiors come in direct contact with air. This long awaited mating of air and trapped gases leads to ignition of the gases that results in massive flames that can reach as high as 5 meters or 16 feet in air.
The photographer explained that some of the gases that escape through the cracks actually condense and turn into liquid sulfur and then flow down the stratovolcano but still continue to burn and appears to be a river of blue fire, which may websites incorrectly claim as blue lava.
Interestingly, Grunewald didn’t make use of any special camera filters to make the images blue. They are natural. He explained to Nat Geo that the burning of sulfur takes place throughout the day but in broad daylight, the blue color cannot be seen. It becomes visible only during nights.