the end of our last Krakatau tour (see previous report) we got the
information from Alain (Azimuth Travel) over a strong activity of the Semeru
with pyroclastic flows. Unfortunately our schedule did not permit an
extension, so I decided to fly immediately to the next full moon phase again
to Java. Because everybody was busy, I flew this time alone. Beside Semeru,
I wanted to visit also the already well
known volcanos of this area.
On the trip from Surabaya to the
South the artificial mud volcano in
Sidoarjo is noticeable. A dam is impounding now the constantly growing
mud lake. Numerous houses were buried by this unfortunate drill which
caused this fatal outbreak, which obstructed
also important highway
circuit routes. Shortly before Tretes you pass the Candi Jawi temple.
First the excess of the Welirang stood on the plan. This volcano
possesses a very active fumarole field with strong sulphur isolation,
sometimes hot enough
for partial self inflammation. This 3000 meter
from Tretes requires
normally an overnight accommodation. Thus, I afforded a jeep and a
for the first part of the way
This was truly one of my most adventurous area trips, which I ever
Afterwards I knew why one stands in the back on the car loading area and
does not sit down. Also the driver was at any time ready for the jump.
So we could found a camp before sunset near the summit.
The first tour shows
the large summit crater and the
west - lateral
the beautiful weather continued not for a long time.
Besides the wind
in the wrong direction,
I had to start
numerous attempts to reach the most active sulphur vents.
gas mask wasnít useful by a view of 50cm Ö
morning. The west trail was over-grown of vegetation up to the hips,
and the rain soaked the underground. This
slipping constantly on the roots and the muddy earth. Despite numerous
we reached the valley without
The next destination was the volcano Kelud. This volcano is famous of
its recurring eruptions, whereby the Crater Lake empties itself and
causes lahars. I knew this Crater Lake from 2005. At the end of 2007 a
grew with high speed, but it didnít come to an outbreak. Nevertheless
the complete lake was displaced surprisingly.
You can see these phenomena in comparison on the pictures from 2005 and
2008. In order to examine, whether this dome is still
its emerge half a year later, I camped at the crater rim.
But not the
smallest activity was determined, - only after the thunder storm rain in
the evening steam clouds from the still warm inside could be
A long distance drive brought us to the Kawah- Ijen. These phenomena I
wanted to reach still before the full moon phase, because I didnít knew
whether the lighting apparition was too weak for the moon light. With
the last visit 2005 I did not have the chance to become active at night.
During this time, I was informed from this lighting apparition through
the pictures published in
custodian reported from a low sea-level at present and much very hot
vents. Because the weather was excellent I still ascended at the same
night. On the edge of
crater the blue burning gas
could be seen despite the high standing moon.
Click for GIF
However not these more-meter-high flames had been
spectacularly at all,- instead the burning sulfur which was drawing like
lava flows gave the most impression. I haven't seen this aesthetic look
anywhere else. Even the Lengai lava would appear boring against it. The
burning sulfur rivers shows laminar blue flames like carpet fringes, may
fit in comparison with the sun chromosphere. The more airy wind let the
flames constantly change the direction in constant sweeps and wave
formings. Small red places arose again and again, which took place like
micro-strombolian-eruptions in a format of centimetres. Photos can
express this in no way, you must see it by yourself.
Surprising for me was the brightness. Dspite the
full moon the flame carpets did show an intensive blue colour.
Unfortunately the Kawah Ijen is a mining area for
sulfur, which predominantly finds the application for bleaching sugar.
Because work is rare in this area, more and more worker chose the
cumbersome transport of the sulfur from the crater to the road. I could
observe, how even bad quality was mined at present. The people nearly
works the whole night thru, and artificial water pools including motor
pumps for an efficiency increase are established. The burning sulfur
rivers were extinguished by the workers by pouring water with barrels
over it still by hand. This prevents sulfur loss by burn-up.
Actually the liquid sulfur is too cool,
to burn automatically. However the burning gas torches are dripping down
and ignites the liquid sulfur again. How lucky I was to be allowed to see such
sulfur fire rivers, I appreciated this in the second night.
More serious workers
all fire places
of the night. No
sulfur fire river
could be observed from now.
Only the always burning
an interesting contrast.
the size in
on the picture with the worker
to the Semeru. Planning to
spend several nights at the Gunung Sawur volcanic observatory proved as
impracticable. On the one hand you
are not welcome
I had detailed
several hours with the
army and the
police around midnight. On the
other hand this point is photographically very unfavorable,
because this point
is located exactly
in the direction of the sun set, or
you have the sun
exactly in the back. In any case,
the volcano seems flat
and unattractively. Therefore I
by jeep to reach
an optimal place exactly at the south
of the Semeru.
two nights in the tent.
From there you have the best view, and it is saver than the summit
Unfortunately the activity had
to the normal
pyroclastics flows could be
weather was good and numerous usually small
lightnings in the ash
With such large, but
rare lightnings like
was partly presented very small, or
there was nothing to see.
Only in the second night half of the last night several intensiv red
This journey was again very impressive and worthwhile. Unfortunately
Semeru and Welirang had been weak active, but the night nature miracle
Kawah- Ijen offered far more than I had expected.