Saturday, September 6, 2014

Inhospitable Beauty

Acidic lakes can form in volcano craters because of volcanic gases creating a stunning, but inhospitable environment.
Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.
Albert Schweitzer
Kawah Ijen

The turquoise-colored lake in the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano appears serene but the water has a prohibitively acidic pH of 0.3 because of an influx of sulfuric gas from the volcano. For comparison, the pH of pure drinking water is 7 (neutral), while the pH of lemon juice is 3.

Acidic lake in Kawah Ijen crater

The Kawah Ijen crater lake the world's largest acidic lake.
Each volcano is an independent machine—nay, each vent and monticule is for the time being engaged in its own peculiar business, cooking as it were its special dish, which in due time is to be separately served.
Clarence Dutton
Kawah Ijen at Night

At night, a blue glow emanates from the cracks in the Kawah Ijen volcano where sulfuric gases are emitted. Sulfuric gas escapes from the subsurface under high pressure and temperatures up to 1,112°F (600°C).

Blue flame of sulfuric gases igniting in the Kawah Ijen crater.
Photograph by Oliver Gunewald

The super-heated stream of sulphuric gas ignites when exposed to atmospheric oxygen causing the intense blue flames observed at night.
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Albert Schweitzer