Exploring Ijen Volcanic Cluster – Where the Only Endless Blue Flames on Earth Burn.
The Ijen volcanic cluster in East Java, Indonesia, stretches to more than 22 km. This vast expanse of complex geological formations has a dramatic landscape during the day, but at night, the mountains spew out eerie blue “lava”.
Kawah Ijen is said to be the only place on the planet where these blue flames exist continuously. However, the beauty of the Kawah Ijen volcano comes at a cost, as the high sulfur levels make the surrounding air toxic to anyone who breathes it in.
The phenomenon of blue lava occurs because there are large “pockets” of sulfur in the rock. Sulfur escapes when rock liquefies and releases harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide when burned. Sulfur ignites on contact with oxygen, producing a blue flame. Volcanic lava looks completely blue, but in reality only the surface of the lava is covered by blue flames. Blue fire always burns on the surface of lava but is difficult to see during the day.
This vast volcanic cluster is actually located in a caldera – a depression that forms when volcanoes erupt and collapse, often creating a large lake in the center. The Ijen Cluster contains about 22 eruptions, mainly around the edge of the caldera.
The lake in the Ijen Caldera has a beautiful bright turquoise color, but it is the largest acidic lake in the world and has a pH close to zero. Swimming in this lake can be life-threatening or at least injuring. serious accumulation.
With an abundance of sulfur, known locally as “devil’s gold”, this volcanic cluster is one of the few places where manual sulfur mining is practiced. In Java, Indonesia, sulfur is used to make matches and make sugar whiter. Visitors here must wear gas masks, but many miners cannot afford to buy masks and only use cloth to cover their mouths. Without proper protective equipment, many workers face serious health problems, of which a third often suffer from respiratory diseases.
Ijen may be the only place with a continuous burning blue flame, but this blue fire phenomenon can occur in places where certain gases are found in high concentrations. Some reports have recorded that blue fire appeared in a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, USA. There, the sulfur around the hydrothermal vents ignited.
In 2018, the US Geological Survey (USGS) released images showing blue flames appearing to shoot out of the ground during the eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. These flames are formed by the release of methane gas. This gas released by lava from the eruption covered vegetation and prevented oxygen from reaching. This incomplete combustion releases methane gas, which in turn causes a blue flame.
The Dallol volcano in the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia, also spews blue lava, but this is rare. Each spawn, blue fire will burn for several days. They also form from hydrothermal vents and sulfur springs within the depression.