Striking blue lights erupt out of Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen Volcano, giving close competition to the famed Northern Lights, if we may say so ourselves! By Amitha Ameen
If you like us are borderline obsessed with science fiction movies, then brace yourselves for some real-life awesomeness. Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java emits a striking blue glow in the night.
There’s no magic or supernatural mystery behind but simple science. The molten rock glows in the usual bright orange, red and yellow hues during the day but comes night-time and a blue light shines through the cracks of the volcano. Experts say this is unlike any other natural phenomenon they have seen.
Now, the reason this happens is because of a mix of lava and high-pressure sulfuric gases. When the high-pressure gases mix with oxygen and the super-hot lava, these brilliant blue flames erupt to as high as 16-feet in the air. The heavy sulfur concentrations result in these blue lights pouring down the side of the volcano, making it look like the lava itself is blue (which is not the case). To see the phenomenon, you will need to head to the base of the volcano during midnight and hike more than six kilometres to a height of 10,000 feet.
Now, there are several guided tours but the best way to experience this is to hire a local guide. Although there are no direct flights to Banyuwangi, you can fly into Blimbingsari Airport that has recently opened up with limited flights. The other options would be to fly into the city of Surabaya, and then take a six-hour train journey to Banyuwangi.
Obviously, this natural phenomenon attracts a lot of tourists to the site. But the site has other visitors as well. Miners come to these sites to collect the sulfuric rocks as part of their daily jobs. Daily exposure to sulfur can lead to breathing problems and lung diseases and other health issues. So although the Kawah Ijen is awe-inspiring to us, it has another side as well.