Sulfur Mining at Indonesia’s Ijen Crater Lake

To view more photos and videos from the Ijen sulfur lake, visit the Kawah Ijen location page.

High up in the East Java region of Indonesia, the Ijen volcano is a site of both magnificent beauty and treacherous working conditions.

Stretching across a width of 1km (3,280ft), a bright turquoise lake draws traveling Instagrammers from across the world to capture its splendor in the rising sun. Though beautiful, the lake contains some of the most acidic water on the globe as a result of sulfur present in the volcanic gas.

Local organizations have taken advantage of the sulfur and developed a laborious mining operation to fuel other industries on the island. After channeling through a series of pipes, the condensed gasses pour out into pools of bright yellow molten sulfur.

Mine workers break apart the cooled sulfur by hand and then carry the 70-90kg (165-200lb) baskets up the steep crater rim before embarking on a 3km (1.86mi) hike to their destination in the Pultuding valley. The approximately 200 laborers often make this trip multiple times per day for very slight earnings.