The Mystery Of Indonesian Blue Lava

 | Grace Higgins

The Indonesian volcano Kawah Ijen is particularly famous and beautiful due to shooting out blue lava, the phenomenon is caused by its particularly high levels of sulfur. But if you look into it a little further, this amazing spectacle reveals a dark secret.

Volcanoes for generations have been at the center of folklore and myth. These fiery mountains that suddenly erupt and spew molten lava over all its surroundings have terrified and fascinated humans for centuries. One volcano’s whose reputations have gone above all others is Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen volcano or as its locals like to call it: The Blue Volcano.

Part of a complex network of volcanoes in the Banyuwangi Regency, Java it is one of the most unusual volcanoes you can find on Earth due to not having red lava and black smoke. Due to it being mostly located underground, the activities result in bright blue flames rising out into the air.

Many people like to call it the mysterious electric blue fire, and since it was covered in National Geographic it has become a bit of a tourist attraction for anyone that travels to East Java and Indonesia. Essentially the magic happens when the volcano sulfuric gases come in touch with an air temperature that is above 360 degrees Celsius.

And though it does look beautiful especially at night, the volcano holds a dark secret: it is home to one of the most dangerous sulfur mining operations in existence. After blue flames extinguish miners go and carry the solid sulfur-rich rocks mostly just by hand and in baskets down the side of a mountain. All the work is unregulated and even children are seen scrambling up and down. The worst is they are just paid a meager six USD cents per kilogram and the working conditions are extremely dangerous due to the sulfuric gas.