Blue fire Ijen Crater is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the Ijen crater near the city of Banyuwangi. Throughout the years it has brought worldwide popularity to this eastern java mountain. Ijen Banyuwangi Crater Tour is now visited by hundreds and even thousands of local and foreign tourists every day.
“There are only two places where you can see the blue fire phenomenon in the world. The first one is located in Banyuwangi while the other one is in Iceland.” This is how the information is presented in various media as well as marketingadvertisements on Banyuwangi tourism. Ijen crater’s blue fire phenomenon has been a main promotional theme in brochures, tourism advertisements, writings on prints and online media, and in some even issued by the government.
However, there has been quite a propping question. Is it true that there are two blue fires in the world? How valid is that widespread information about the blue fire?
Is There Really Blue Fire in Iceland?
As a person who is accustomed to writing on a journalistic basis, as well as pursuing in the world of internet marketing, especially in the field of search engine optimization (SEO), I felt quite intrigued to trace the accuracy of the information about Ijen’s blue fire.
When I typed the keyword “blue fire Iceland” as well as other related keywords (blue flame, blue lava, blue volcano) in the Google search engine, it turned out that there was no information about the blue fire in Iceland.
The funny thing is that when I typed the keyword “blue fire Iceland” in the state-owned Google search engine namely www.google.is, the information that appeared was about a Blue Fire Roller Coaster, built by Mack Rides company, located in the Icelandic rides area in the Europe-park, found in the city of Rust, Germany.
I opened page after page of Google Iceland, but I could not find any information about it. With Google Translate, I translated the words “blue fire, blue flame, blue lava, blue volcano” into Icelandic. Then I searched those words one by one on Google Iceland. Nothing could be found.
It doesn’t make sense, if there really was a blue fire in Iceland, it is impossible that it can’t be found on the Icelandic websites. Furthermore, Iceland has “The Land of Fire and Ice” as their promotional tagline, it would be very strange if they didn’t promote a blue fire if there was one.
At this point, I concluded that the Banyuwangi tourism promotion about the Blue Fire, which is constantly stating that there are only two “blue fire” in the world is clearly invalid. It might seem trivial, but this inaccurate information has now become a colossal mistake.
If we type “blue fire Ijen and Iceland Crater” in Google, “about 17,800 results” will appear. this means that there are around 17,800 web pages on the internet with the keyword “blue fire Ijen and Iceland Crater”. Moreover, there are about 11,700 results for “blue fire of Mount Ijen and Iceland”, around 8,780 results for “blue fire was in Ijen Crater of Iceland”, about 6,940 results for “blue fire was in Ijen and Iceland Crater”, and about 8,170 results for the keyword “blue fire is in Ijen and Iceland”.
With my concern over this invalid information about the blue fire, I re-opened various references that I have and tried to look for new information with the hope that there will be more accurate references regarding this destination.
Blue Fire Ijen Crater Photo Hunting
Due to the unsuccessful efforts of collecting information by keywords, I needed to look for another method, searching for images (photos or pictures), while still using Google. I googled by using the image searching option by typing “Blue Fire Ijen Crater”, lots of blue fire images where displayed.
There were quite a big number of the same photos. This means that there are a few similar photos that are widely used by many web makers. I downloaded dozens of the blue fire most often used photos. The source of the initial photos was not large. There are only 57 photos in total, these are reused by hundreds or even thousands of web makers who post about the blue fire Ijen Crater.
The Original Blue Fire Ijen Crater Photo
The next step was to find which websites initially posted the original photos. Still using Google but this time with the image search service. I dragged a blue fire photo from my downloaded collection into the search box. The results appeared in the form of websites that have the same photo as mine and images that are visually similar to mine. There were so many websites that use these photos, it was hard to find which ones had the original post.
Ask Google French for Help
Throughout this tiring process, I remembered that Ijen Crater Banyuwangi was originally popularized by French people. Ijen Crater began to be widely known after the publication of the “À l’assaut des volcans, Islande, Indonésie” in 1975. It was a research publication by Maurice and Katia Krafft, a French couple of volcanologists and geologists who examined Ijen Crater in 1971.
To find out who Maurice and Katia Krafft are, please read: The person who first introduced Ijen Crater Banyuwangi to the world.
Around early 1999, a TV program called Ushuaïa Nature was very popular in France and other French-speaking countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, and Quebec, Canada. The program featured the explorer Nicholas Hulot, and volcanologist Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff, they were exploring in Ijen crater, including boating in the acid lake Ijen crater.
In 2010, a traveling Reality Show called “Peking Express” which was also very popular in French-speaking countries, also filmed in Ijen Crater.
From there I was inspired to browse the photos of Ijen Crater through Google French with the same techniques but on www.google.fr. The results turned out to be satisfactory. I found a lot of blue fire Ijen Crater photos that have been used by Indonesian travel websites, but their initial source was the French website www.oliviergrunewald.com.
This site is owned by Olivier Grunewald, a photographer specialized in wildlife photography and volcanic natural phenomenon. His photographs have been decorating quite many French and international media, such as Le Figaro Magazine, GEO, Fitur Great, VOD, BBC Wildlife, Focus, Airone, and National Geographic.
Blue Fire Ijen by Grunewald
In 2008, Olivier Grunewald and Etienne Régis, President of SVG (Volcanology Society of Geneva) visited Ijen Crater for the first time after hearing information about the blue fire natural phenomenon in the Ijen Crater.
Then later in 2013, Olivier Grunewald and Etienne Régis returned to Ijen Crater with a team. They stayed for 30 nights in the crater, in the middle highly corrosive gases to record images of the unique volcanic events and the sulfur mining activities, to then be produced into documentaries.
They launched a 52-minute documentary, titled “Ijen Crater Volcano and the Mystery of the Blue Flames”. The film’s teaser premiere was released on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, on Ushuaia TV, France.
Besides that, there was no doubt about the quality of the new photoshoots. Grunewald’s photographs of the blue fire on Ijen Crater were immediately displayed in various French and worldwide media, including on National Geographic and of course on his website www.oliviergrunewald.com.
Those photographs may be the reason why the visits of foreign tourists to the Ijen Banyuwangi Crater has increased dramatically in the last few years. With the purpose, of course, to see the rare phenomenon of blue fire.
Another Blue Fire Phenomenon
Surprisingly, from Grunewald’s site, which is around fifty years old, we can find super important information about the natural phenomenon of the blue fire in other places, besides the blue fire of Mount Ijen Banyuwangi.
It turns out that the Ijen’s blue fire photographs that many people use, the same ones I downloaded from various websites are from Olivier Grunewald’s. Especially the good quality ones, you can find them in the photo album gallery menu on www.oliviergrunewald.com.
But there is something rather unique, Amongst the photos, there are three that portray a pool of blue fire and steam. These photos are very popular and are widely used in various web pages that sell tours or tell information about the blue fire of the Ijen Crater.
These three photos are in the photo gallery on Olivier Grunewald’s website, ¡but not in the Ijen Crater Banyuwangi album, but the Ethiopian album! The title of the photo is “Sulfuric blue flames in Dallol hydrothermal site”.
So is there another blue fire…? Blue flame in Dallol…? the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia?
Danakil Ethiopian Depression
I think that as long as you are selective in choosing information sources, google has been legitimately recognized as one of the methods for finding formal references. Therefore, the first time I searched for information about Danakil was on the official website of the Ethiopian government, then I went to other sites.
First, I explored in www.ethiopia.gov.et (Ethiopian Government Portal). Then, at www.ethiopia.travel (Ethiopian Tourism Organization) and finally at www. moct.gov.et (Ministry of Culture and Tourism).
From the official websites and several supporting sites, I got a lot of interesting information. The Danakil Depression is a desert in a volcanic area in northeast Ethiopia, reaching from the Dallol volcano to the Lake Assal, near the Ethiopian border with Eritrea. This desert area is about 100,000 kilometers. There are around 30 active and inactive volcanoes there.
Danakil is a very extreme place. It is one of the eight lowest points on the planet that is not covered by water. Located at an altitude of 80 meters to 155 meters below sea level, yes, below sea level… Not above sea level…!
With its dry and arid terrain, Danakil is the place with the highest average temperature on Earth, the average is 34 degrees Celsius and in the summer usually rises to 55 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature can reach 63 degrees Celsius.
Danakil is a spectacular place. A strange and mysterious landscape with poisonous hot springs, black frozen lava flows, and large salt basins left from ancient lakes. It is one of the most active tectonic areas on the planet and with its mineral-rich crater lakes, the water and soil become very colorful.
Salt and Mineral Mining
This desert was flooded over and over again, mainly with the water of the Red Sea, when the earth’s cracking process took place. It is estimated that this area was finally separated from the Red Sea around 30,000 years ago when volcanic activity in the north created a barrier for the entry of seawater.
After each flood episode, the seawater evaporated due to geothermal energy and solar heat. the evaporation left thick salt deposits. Besides, minerals were formed due to the mix of hot magma with the groundwater and then finally, going through crystallization (hydrothermal process)
Salt deposits and various minerals in this desert are stratified and multi-layered. The precipitation of carbonates, sulfates, and chlorides of sodium salt, calcium, magnesium, and potassium occurs at various stages of the evaporation process. These deposits reach tens or even hundreds of meters in thickness.
Large deposits of salt and minerals were discovered in the Dallol volcano region in 1906. This potential attracted mineral mining companies. Such as CompagniaMinerariaColoniale from Italy (1906-1929), Dallol Co. from Asmara (1951-1953), Ralph M. Parsons from America (1959-1968), and Salzdetfurth AG (SAG) from Germany (1968-1969).
However, the most consistent miners in the Danakil desert come from the Afar tribe, local people who had lived there and have been mining the salt for more than 2000 years ago. To this day they are still mining the salt traditionally, using axes to chop up salt in the form of large sheets. then cut again into square tiles with a certain size standard. It is stacked, bound, and put on the backs of camels and donkeys.
Every day around 2000 camels and 1000 donkeys carry the salt to the nearest town, which is about 70 km from the location of the salt mine, to then be distributed further throughout Ethiopia and even abroad.
Blue Fire Dallol
Dallol is a volcano in the Danakil desert deep under a thick layer of salt. On the surface, it only looks like lakes and sulfur pools of colorful hot water. It has an altitude of 116 meters below sea level. The lowest point has ventilation holes and contains puddles connecting the earth’s surface and the earth’s core.
Dallol is the place with the most colorful views on earth. The active volcanic activity in the bowels of the earth encourages the movement of mineral-rich hot water vapor. Then, it crystallizes and settles on the surface creating a mineral rainbow.
It´s a quite dangerous place to visit. The surface is covered with layers of crusty salt and minerals. But a few inches below it there is a pool of very acidic hot water and sometimes, it releases poisonous gases.
At times the heat from the magma comes out of the crater mixed with sulfur dust. When high temperatures and sulfur dust come in contact with air, the sulfur dust burns, producing blue flames which can be seen in the dark, just like the blue flames in the Ijen Crater.
Olivier Grunewald has documented the Dallol’s blue fire phenomenon. According to him the burning of sulfur dust can last for several days. The presence of Dallol blue fire is very rare and it cannot be seen all the time.
Olivier Grunewald’s unique blue fire Dallol photographs have spread worldwide. They have also been widely displayed in various French and international media, both online and print media.
Maybe because they both have the blue-fire theme, many online media made posts about the Ijen Crater blue fire, displaying Dallol’s blue fire photos. This happens a lot, especially in some Indonesian websites.
So, How Many Blue Fire exists in the World?
Is it true that there are only blue fire Ijen Crater Banyuwangi and blue fire Dallol?
The phenomenon of blue fire often arises in volcanoes that erupt, when an ash explosion occurs. Also, ancient historical records talk about the blue fire on the southern slopes of Mount Vesuvius, Italy, the volcano that destroyed the city of Pompei, and the blue fire on Vulcano Island off the coast of Sicily.
Another record states that the phenomenon of blue fire had occurred during a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, United States. The heat from the fires melted the sulfur around hydrothermal vents, the fracture pathway that connects the surface of the earth and the earth’s core creates a blue flame.
Therefore, if someone claims that there are only two blue fire phenomena in the world, in the Ijen Crater, and Iceland, I have proven that the information is incorrect.
The valid information is that The only blue fire phenomenon in the world that can be found every single day is the blue fire in the Ijen Crater, in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
The blue fire phenomenon that sometimes occurs in the Dallol, in the Ethiopian Danakil Depression, appears only on certain occasions. Another blue fire that happened during a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, And the Blue fire which is recorded in ancient history from Mount Vesuvius Italy and Vulcano Island.
This is the accurate information about the blue fire phenomenon in the world that I have gathered from various references in official and reliable sites on the internet. as a correction, as well as a critique towards the lack of attention and weak accuracy of our previous data.
Errors and inaccuracies in information about the blue fire of the Ijen Crater have indeed been happening for years, and have become a mass mistake. So, following the spirit of the anti-hoax movement and false news, we need to pass on this correct information to the public.
Are you interested in helping to rectify the wrong information about the blue fire of Ijen Crater, which has been published on thousands of websites, listed in various print media writings, or printed in various tourism promotion tools in Banyuwangi Regency …?
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