Sulfur Stalactites From The Blue Flame Volcano

Write By: tmmadmin Published In: Classic Mineral Localities Created Date: 2015-05-28 Hits: 6642 Comment: 0

11.8" Bright Yellow Natural SULFUR STALACTITE - Blue Fire Volcano, Java, Indonesia

Molten sulfur burns atop a solid sulfur deposit at Kawah Ijen volcano

Locality Photos by Olivier Grunewalt
Specimen photos by Treasure Mountain Mining

In Tucson this year, I found a vendor who was selling sulfur stalactites, up to 13" long. The stalactites were a bright, butter yellow color, and consisted of multiple "frozen" rivulets of sulfur. They came from the Kawah Ijen volcano on the island of Java in Indonesia. Here, stalactites form naturally when the molten sulfur drips over the edge of a drop off and "freezes" as it flows along the stalactites as thin rivulets of bright yellow solid sulfur.

But what really caught my attention was the photos of the volcano, which is called the "Blue Fire Volcano" because it spews molten sulfur in huge quantities, and on contact with the air the sulfur burns with a dazzling electric blue light! The blue glow is actually the light from burning sulfuric gases. These gases gush out of cracks under great pressure and at temperatures of over 1,000°F, so when they ignite, the flames can reach over 15 feet in height. What looks like lava also flows out of the cracks in the volcano, but it is molten sulfur, not lava. Sulfur melts at 239°F, so as the gases cool, they become molten sulfur, and these glow a glistening blue color as the flow down the volcano's slopes. One writer says this effect looks like a Smurfs' campfire! The blue color is only visible at night.

Nestled inside the top of the 8,660 foot tall volcano is a very warm 450 foot deep crater lake that is over 3,000 feet wide, and is colored a strange turquoise green. This is the world's largest body of hydrochloric acid. On the shore of the lake, local miners have built a solfatera around an active vent. The liquid sulfur is channeled through streams, pipes and tunnels and into cooling ponds below, where it solidifies. There the cooled sulfur is broken into chunks and carried out of the caldera in baskets to be refined.

Sulfur stalactites form when the molten sulfur flows down the slopes and pours over a sheer drop, where it cools in the typical dripping shape of a stalactite. The stalactites are collected and sold to tourists (and now to mineral dealers!).

Flaming molten sulfur flows inside the volcanic crater

Sulfur gases ignite with a wispy blue fire

Molten sulfur splashes and burns

A river of sulfur flows near Kawah Ijen's acid lake, lit by moonlight

Waves of burning molten sulfur

Burning liquid sulfur flows from a vent

Turquoise green waters of the lake of hydrochloric acid

Smoking sulfur flows from vents at the sulfur mine inside the volcanic crater

The solfatara (at bottom left) alongside the crater lake

Steam rises from the warm, highly acid lake

Sulfur drips over an edge to form stalactites

Miners working at night by torchlight near a sulfur vent

Miners work the massive flows of of cooled sulfur by daylight

Still molten sulfur overflows from a pool, forming long stalactites

Molten sulfur has hardened into dripping stalactite forms

Sulfur is carried in baskets slung across a miner's back for the climb out of the crater

Miners carry loads of sulfur up out of the crater

Liquid sulfur is spread on a concrete slab to cool and harden into thin sheets


9.8" Real Natural SULFUR STALACTITE - Blue Fire Volcano, Java, Indonesia

3.7" Lemon Yellow Dripping SULFUR STALACTITE - Blue Fire Volcano, Java, Indonesia

6.1" Dripping Lemon Yellow SULFUR STALACTITE Blue Fire Volcano, Java, Indonesia

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