The European Space Agency (ESA) recently showcased a captivating video of Kawah Ijen Lake in East Java, Indonesia, known for its bright blue lava. Released as a Halloween special, the clip deemed the site the “spookiest place on Earth.”
Kawah Ijen isn’t just any volcanic crater; it is brimming with acid that occasionally ejects blue flames. Renowned geologists regard it as the “largest acid barrel on Earth” due to its rich sulfuric acid content and diverse minerals. These elements not only make the lake acidic but also lend it a striking blue-green tint. The ESA elaborated on the blue flames, stating, “These mysterious blue flames are sparked by sulfuric gases that emerge from crevices in the volcanic crater, producing an ethereal nighttime display.”
Mining Amidst the Blue Blaze
Though the gases from this East Java volcano burn incessantly, the distinct blue shade is perceptible only post-sunset. During the day, miners risk exposure to the potent gases, striving to harvest sizable sulfur lumps around the lake within the crater. Each day, numerous workers undertake this treacherous trek, filling their wicker containers with chunks of the vivid yellow element. While a few don protective gear, many, lacking the means for such safety measures, resort to dampened cloths to shield their faces. This raw sulfur finds its way into local factories, where it’s utilized in refining sugar, creating matches, and producing medicines.
The video garnered immense attention online, leading to a surge of comments. While some netizens detailed their visits, others expressed awe and intrigue. Comments ranged from cautionary tales of the sulfur fumes to metaphoric associations with the notorious “fire and brimstone” description of Hell.