From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen - Indonesia - 20110608.jpg
Kawah Ijen volcano
Elevation 2,799 m (9,183 ft)
Listing Spesial Ribu
Location Banyuwangi Regency,
Java, Indonesia
Coordinates 8°03′29″S 114°14′31″E / 8.058°S 114.242°E / -8.058; 114.242
Type Stratovolcano
Last eruption June 1999
1937 Dutch map of the Ijen Plateau

The Ijen volcano complex is a group of stratovolcanoes in the Banyuwangi Regency of East Java, Indonesia. It is inside a larger caldera Ijen, which is about 20 kilometers wide. The Gunung Merapi stratovolcano is the highest point of that complex. The name of this volcano resembles that of a different volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, also known as Gunung Merapi; there is also a third volcano named Marapi in Sumatra. The name "Merapi" means "mountain of fire" in the Indonesian language.

West of Gunung Merapi is the Ijen volcano, which has a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored acid crater lake which now more famous as 'Blue Fire Crater', after BBC television documentary Human Planet and National Geographic mention it. The lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor. The work is low-paid and very onerous. Workers earn around $5.50-$8.30 (Rp 50,000 - Rp 75,000) per day and once out of the crater, still need to carry their loads of sulfur chunks about three kilometers to the nearby Pultuding Valley to get paid.[1]

Many other post-caldera cones and craters are located within the caldera or along its rim. The largest concentration of post-caldera cones forms an east/west-trending zone across the southern side of the caldera. The active crater at Kawah Ijen has an equivalent radius of 361 metres (1,184 ft), a surface of 0.41 square kilometres (0.16 sq mi). It is 200 metres (660 ft) deep and has a volume of 36 cubic hectometres (29,000 acre·ft).

The lake is recognised as the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world,[2] and since it is also a source for the river Banyupahit, resulting in highly acidic and metal-polluted water, it has a significant detrimental effect on the downstream river ecosystem.[3] In 2008, explorer George Kourounis took a small rubber boat out onto the acid lake to measure its acidity. The pH of the water in the crater was measured to be 0.5 due to sulfuric acid.[4]

Ijen 3D


Hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists are trekking to Ijen Caldera everyday to see coffee and cocoa plantations, tosca-green hue of caldera with yellow spot rim of sulphur and white smoke and also to see traditional sulphur mining. The starting point of trek is Pattunding Post a 1.5 kilometers from the summit of Mount Ijen which can accessed easily from Bondowoso to Sempol (60 kilometers) and then use Ojek/4WD jeep to the post.[5]

Blue Fire Crater[edit]

Since National Geographic mentioned the electric-blue flame of Ijen, more tourists have come to see it. The phenomenon has occurred for a long time, but beforehand there was no midnight hiking. A two-hour hike is required to reach rim of the crater, thence 45 minutes to hike down to the bank of the crater, a guide necessary. The blue fire is not lava, but the ignited sulphuric gas, which emerged from cracks, with temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit) and up to 5 meters (16 feet) high; some of the gas condenses to liquid with the low alpine temperature and is still ignited, leading to the common assumption that it is lava.[6][7] It is the largest blue flame area in the world and local people refer to it as 'Blue Fire', because it easier and more understandable to say 'fire' than 'flame'.

Sulfur mining at Ijen[edit]

Map of Ijen Crater, where sulfur is mined

An active vent at the edge of the lake is a source of elemental sulfur, and supports a mining operation. Escaping volcanic gasses are channelled through a network of ceramic pipes, resulting in condensation of molten sulfur.[8] The sulfur, which is deep red in color when molten, pours slowly from the ends of these pipes and pools on the ground, turning bright yellow as it cools. The miners break the cooled material into large pieces and carry it away in baskets. Miners must carry loads, which range from 75 kilograms (165 lb) to 90 kilograms (200 lb), up 300 metres (980 ft) to the crater rim, with a gradient of 45 to 60 degrees and then 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) down the mountain for weighing. Most miners make this journey twice a day. A nearby sugar refinery pays the miners by the weight of sulfur transported; as of September 2010, the typical daily earnings were equivalent to approximately $13 US. The miners often use insufficient protection while working around the volcano [9] and complain of numerous respiratory afflictions. There are 200 miners, who extract 14 tons per day or only 20 percent of the continuous daily deposit.[10]


Ijen and its sulfur mining was featured as a topic on the 5th episode of the BBC television documentary Human Planet. In the documentary film War Photographer, journalist James Nachtwey visits Ijen and struggles with noxious fumes while trying to photograph workers. Michael Glawogger film Workingman's Death is about sulfur workers. National Geographic has also mentions about Ijen.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Indra Harsaputra, Kawah Ijen: Between potential and threat', The Jakarta Post, 19 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Ijen". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Natural Pollution Caused by the Extremely Acidic Crater Lake Kawah Ijen, East Java, Indonesia". Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Measuring the acidity of Kawah Ijen crater lake
  5. ^ "Mount Ijen's Magic Colors". March 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Brian Clark Howard. "Stunning Electric-Blue Flames Erupt From Volcanoes". Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ Robert Schrader. "The Dark Secret of Indonesia’s Blue-Fire Volcano". Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ Think your work is hell? Thank your lucky stars you didn't have to mine sulphur for 12 hours in a volcano crater filled with toxic fumes that will probably kill you before you are 30 Daily Mail, 2012-10-16.
  9. ^ Grunewald, Olivier (2010-12-08). "Kawah Ijen by night". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  10. ^ "Kawah Ijen: Between potential & threat". The Jakarta Post, December 19, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Banyuwangi travel guide from Wikivoyage