, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 HOW DO VOLCANOES TURN BLUE 4289


At the eastern end of the island of Java, Indonesia, a group of stratovolcanoes, which form part of the Ijen volcano complex, rise 2,800 metres into the sky. Violent eruptions over the past millennia have left behind a sprawling cratered landscape measuring almost 80 kilometres across. Noxious gases spiral out of this forbidding landscape – but that’s not all. The volcano also spews out tons of 538°C sulphur from cracks in the rock to the surface. The sulphur reacts with the oxygen in the air and burns, causing a steaming, blue-lit river to tumble down the mountain.

The burning river of sulphur eventually empties directly into the 200-metre-deep crater lake of Kawah Ijen. This 900-metrelong, 600-metre-wide body of water is the largest highly acidic crater in the world. The pH value of the bubbling lake is 0.5 – roughly as acidic as car battery acid.

In 1921, to protect the surrounding land from this poisonous concoction, Dutch engineers constructed a massive dam on the edge of the crater, which prevented the uncontrolled run-off of the swirling sulphuric soup. These days the dam is no longer operational; instead ceramic pipes collect the run-off of sulphur which is then mined by local workers when it has cooled down suffi ciently.


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