We’re all used to seeing lava as this scorching hot orange/reddish molten rock. We’ve all had our fair share of apocalyptic volcanic movies as well as documentaries. However, there is a one-of-a-kind volcano that spews out a brilliantly colored molten sulfur.
Located on the eastern edge of Java, Indonesia, Kawah Ijen erupts a blue-colored lava instead of a red one, a pretty rare feature for a volcano. This Indonesian volcano is now a famous nighttime stop for tourists.
Renowned nature photographer Olivier Grunewald has given people the chance to analyze the features of one of the rarest volcanoes in the planet by documenting the volcano itself in breathtaking photos.
Calling the blue liquid a form of lava is actually a misconception. Scientifically, the Kawah Ijen’s electric-blue liquid is condensed sulfur resulting from immensely high pressure and temperature underneath the volcano.
But the real question is, what makes it give off the color blue?
It’s now time for a little chemistry lesson!
Sulfur is a flammable chemical element that produces a neon blue flame when it is burned. Basically, Kawah Ijen undergoes the same kind of chemical change, along with distinct environmental factors.
A chemical reaction occurs, and sulfur trioxide and sulfur dioxide are created as a by-product of the combustion.
Once the sulfur breaches the volcano’s surface, things can get really really hot—like 1,112°F kind of hot—and could be extremely pressured. When this happens, significant combustion does not take place.
But when sulfur rises from the volcano, the environment becomes highly oxygenated, accompanied by lower pressures and temperatures, causing the element to spontaneously combust and spewing flames that reach tens of feet into the air.
But not everything comes bursting out with a bang. A part of the sulfur streams down, resulting in the blue lava-like substance on Kawah Ijen’s side. This happens when the element is unable to reach a temperature of 832.4°F, its boiling point. It is really a lava-ble view that is worth staring at.
This blue flame that Kawah Ijen creates is a marvelous sight to behold. If you happen to be in Indonesia, paying a visit to this volcano would make for a magical experience.
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