Kawah Ijen by Olivier Grunewald
Kawah Ijen is a volcano in East Java, Indonesia and 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. It is also home to the largest lake of sulfuric acid in the world. The ph of the lake water is 0.5, similar to the strength of car battery acid. Photographer Olivier Grunewald has recently made several trips into the sulfur mine in the crater, bringing with him equipment to capture surreal images lit by moonlight, torches, and the blue flames of burning molten sulfur. The miners of the 2,600 meter tall (8,660 feet) volcano trek up to the crater, then down to the shore of a 200 meter deep crater lake of sulfuric acid, where they retrieve heavy chunks of pure sulfur to carry back to a weighing station. The colors are beautiful but I’ll bet it stinks something awful.
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