The Blue Lava– A Hot Delight
This universe has surprises and beauties filled for us. Just when you learn that Lava is hot molten rock and is mostly in fiery yellowish colour, there comes a Volcano erupting blue lava. Well, it is actually not lava but appears to be. It tricks our eyes. This extraordinary mystery is not really a mystery because we know what it is.
An Indonesian volcanic complex Kawah Ijen presents us with this beauty. The Ijen volcanic complex is a collection of stratovolcanoes in East Java, containing a large cauldron-shaped “caldera” that is approximately 22 kilometres (13.6 miles) across. The highest peak belongs to the volcano Gunung Merapi, which translates as “mountain of fire.”
It is not actually Blue coloured Lava that comes out of the volcano. At Kawaj Ijen has extremely high quantities of sulfuric gas which emerges at a high pressure and temperature along with the lava. As soon as it gets exposed to the oxygen the sulphur burns readily, and its flames are bright blue.
Since there is so much sulphur present that at times it flows down the rock and is this magnificent blue colour that seems like lava is flowing out. But because only the flames are blue, rather than the lava itself, the effect is only visible at night—during the daytime, the volcano looks like roughly any other.
“The vision of these flames at night is strange and extraordinary,” Grunewald says (a photographer). “After several nights in the crater, we felt really living on another planet.”
The burning process tells us much about the reaction taking place. Blue coloured flames release the most energy meaning that the blue flames of Kawah Ijen are incredibly energetic. The sulphurous pockets, released under high pressure, ignite at temperatures of 600°C (1,112°F), producing flames that reach up to 5 metres (16 feet) high, as the Nerdist reports.
Many workers work and collect sulphur for mere wages. Inhaling the sulphur is very dangerous and these workers work without proper gears. Some workers use a wet cloth as a makeshift mask, but that doesn’t make their job very easy, comfortable, or even safe. They have created a number of pipes and tunnels to channel the sulphur from the volcanic gases down into ground pools. Here, the sulphur hardens and dries, turning yellow before workers break it apart into smaller pieces to sell at local refineries.
So, if you are planning to see this beauty with bear eyes, don’t forget to protect yourself first; for you really need to come back and tell amazing stories.