The video below is footage captured on Earth and not some distant planet. It shows blue lava flowing out of the Kawah Ijen volcano located in East Indonesia. And where there’s blue fire there’s inevitably blue flames.
So why is this lava blue? The answer is sulfur.
The mountain contains a high concentration of pure sulfur. When sulfur burns the color produced is violet, so somewhere in between purple and blue. In the case of Kawah Ijen, when the sulfur and the molten rock come into contact, the combination turns the lava an icy blue.
It takes a lot of sulfur in order to turn all of the lava coming out of a volcano blue, so you won’t be surprised to find there are people who mine it. That’s pretty risky considering the temperatures in the area combined with the gases mixed into the air from the sulfur burning.
There is actually a documentary that’s been produced this year about Kawah Ijen. Unfortunately it’s in French, but that doesn’t stop you enjoying the visuals if you can source a copy.
Photographer Olivier Grunewald has captured some of the best shots of this natural phenomenon.
One word of caution, though. If you do make the trip to Indonesia to look at blue lava, it’s not just the heat and gases that are a danger to your health. You’ve also got to keep an eye out for the venomous King of Wasps. No, really.