Descending Into One of The World’s Most Dramatic Volcanoes

A National Geographic photographer went inside an active volcano at 2 a.m.

Mount Ijen
Sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen volcano, Java, Indonesia. (Wikipedia)

In order to help us learn how to adapt to a changing planet, photographer Andrea Frazzetta wanted to document how people live and work in extreme environments . So he decided to descend into Mount Ijen in East Java, Indonesia, an active volcano that contains an acidic lake and a sulfur mine.

Deep within the crater, miners extract chunks of sulfur, carrying 150- to 200-pound loads to the rim and then down the mountain to sell to factories. Frazzetta rented a gas mask and climbed to the mountain edge. He went at night because that’s when the miners descend into the crater — its cooler then. So at 2 a.m. Frazzetta followed them into the crater to spend the night.

“When you’re in the mine, the sky is covered by gases. Day and night are confused. You feel suspended in time,” he said, according to National Geographic. 

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