Kawah Ijen Volcano in Indonesia lures tourists with its electric blue lava

The ‘Blue Fire’ gets its captivating colour when the sulphur gasses that are emitted from the crater burn. Photo: iStock/adiartana

The Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia produces electric blue flames and offers one of the most spectacular sights of natural beauty in the world. On moonlit nights, you could see blue flames burning like bright LED lights in the dark. This scintillating sight looks as if it is a carefully designed scene in a sci-fi movie or makes you feel like you have reached another planet.

The ‘Blue Fire’ gets its captivating colour when the sulphur gasses that are emitted from the crater burn. When the sulphur gas is pushed out of the crater at around 600 degrees Celsius and in high pressure, it combines with the oxygen in the atmosphere to undergo a chemical process and produce beautiful blue flames.

Interestingly, the glowing blue flames would rise as high as sixteen feet. Some of the gas that is emitted turns into liquid sulphur as it flows on the slopy rocks. This liquid sulphur appears like electric blue lava. However, the actual lava that comes out of the volcano is dark red, orange or yellow just like all other volcanoes. During the daytime, white smoke comes out of the crater; this appears blue only at night.

The density of the sulphur that is emitted at night is quite high, making the lava appear like blue flames. Lots of tourists flock to this region to witness this mesmerizing phenomenon. Interestingly, this is not just a popular tourist spot. Kawah Ijen is also where the miners come to collect the sulphur rocks. The beautiful blue flames of Kawah Ijen narrate stories of the exploitation of the poor miners in the region. The miners collect the sulphur rocks from here and carry them to facilities that are two miles away, for meagre wages. Low wages are not the only disadvantage as collecting the sulphur rocks is a dangerous job too. The miners who regularly visit the volcano to collect the sulphur rocks are often diagnosed with severe throat and lung diseases. 

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