An Indonesian Volcano Released Electric Blue Lava

Photographs taken by a photographer named Reuben Wu reveals an Indonesian volcano that appears to have erupted what looks like electric blue colored lava.

The lava that spewed out of Kawah Ijen is not physically different from the lava that erupts from any stratovolcanoes. It is slow moving, viscous, and roughly 600-900°C (1112-1652°F). Like the lava from any other volcano this lava is also red in color, not blue. So, why is it that photographers like Reuben Wu are snapping pictures of what appears to be electric blue lava?

As you may have learned in chemistry, lava releases a huge amount of thermal energy. It releases enough thermal energy to cook a piece of frozen steak several times. The thermal radiation that the lava emits is what gives the lava the red coloring. The reason why this lava is showing up another color is because it is burning something else. It is burning pockets of sulfur that are spewing out of the volcanoes crevices. Any time sulfur is ignited it burns an electric blue color. Hence the blue lava.

The blue coloring of the lava reveals a lot about the energy and chemical reaction that is occurring at this volcano. When lava is a red color, it means there is a low amount of energy being released. When it is a green color, it means there is a moderate amount of energy being released; and blue suggests a lot of energy is being released when this volcano erupts.


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