Kawah Ijen. East Java, Indonesia
The Earth is our home, but do we know everything about it? Our planet is a treasure trove of natural wonders! Let me acquaint you with an unbelievable place – the sulfuric mine Kawah Ijen. Kawah Ijen is part of volcanic system Ijen, a group of stratovolcanoes in East Java, Indonesia. The uniqueness of this place is that it produces blue lava! The depth of this active crater reaches 200 meters. During the day, Kawah Ijen is usual rocky crater, and at night it turns into an amazing show of electric blue light.
The system is also a location of the largest acid lake in the world. It has a gentle turquoise color and is filled with sulfuric acid. The lake is a place of extraction of sulfur. The miners manually endure from the crater the baskets laden with sulfur. The crater allows workers to double their meager income, and produce the mining at night – because the lava emits an extraordinary light! This spectacle, which you can enjoy for hours, is breathtaking! The flow of the burning hot liquid sulfur from the edge of the lake flashes with a blue flame. It can reach up to 5 meters in height. Here are insufficient conditions for sulfur to spontaneously ignite, but it just melts when the miners drop their torches.
Of course we admire the beauty of this fascinating crater. However, it is overshadowed by the terrible working conditions of the miners. Many of them are heavily underpaid. Eventually they lose their health and sometimes their lives in the process of extraction of sulfur from these suffocating mines. They operate practically free of equipment. When the molten sulfur flows from the pipes inside the volcano, they collect the frozen material, load it into the baskets and carry over to the side of the crater.
The miners sell sulfur crystals for about 5 US cents per kilogram. They make two passes every 24 hours. For one pass, they rise to the surface from 80 to 100 kilograms of their prey. This sulfur is one of the cleanest in Indonesia. It is used in the food processing and chemical industries.
This mine is not the best place to visit. It is absolutely unbearable to stand near the volcano. The gases rise up from the crater of the active volcano and the wind drives the thick evaporation, which gets directly into your lungs. And do not forget that this lake is pure acid.