The big picture: Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen Volcano

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009

About two months ago I posted a link to photos of the Kawah Ijen Volcano in Indonesia, and its lake of sulfuric acid. Big Picture has now assembled some amazing photos of the volcano, together with the sulfur miners who work there, and the often very dangerous environment they operate in.

In East Java, Indonesia lies Kawah Ijen volcano, 2,600 meters tall (8,660ft), topped with a large caldera and a 200-meter-deep lake of sulfuric acid. The quietly active volcano emits gases through fumaroles inside the crater, and local miners have tapped those gases to earn a living. Stone and ceramic pipes cap the fumaroles, and inside, the sulfur condenses into a molten red liquid, dripping back down and solidifying into pure sulfur. Miners hack chunks off with steel bars, braving extremely dangerous gases and liquids with minimal protection, then load up as much as they can carry for the several kilometers to the weighing station. Loads can weigh from 45 to 90kg (100 – 200 lbs), and a single miner might make as many as two or three trips in a day. At the end of a long day, miners take home approximately Rp50,000 ($5.00 u.s.). The sulfur is then used for vulcanizing rubber, bleaching sugar and other industrial processes nearby.

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Kawah Ijen and the Indonesian lake of acid

Tuesday, 31 March, 2009

Some incredible photos of the often dangerous sulfur mining carried out at the Kawah Ijen Volcano in East Java, Indonesia, including a lake filled with water that has the same acidity as car battery solution.

Kawah Ijen is one of the most incredible and surreal places I’ve ever visited. It’s the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation where miners collect and carry huge loads of pure sulfur up from the crater floor along a steep, rocky path amid clouds of sulfur dioxide gas, all for the equivalent of about ten dollars a day.

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