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Sulphur mining at Ijen in east Java Indonesia
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Sulphur mining at Ijen in east Java, Indonesia.

June 9, 2010
Sulphur mining at Ijen in east Java, Indonesia. Pipes are thrust into the fumaroles--vents or openings that emit steam, hydrogen sulfide or other gases from beneath the earth's surface--concentrating sulphur steam. Part of the sulphur steam sublimizes on the surrounding rocks, on the pipes and, if you are not very careful, in your lungs and on your camera lens. The rest condenses inside the tubes, forming small red rivolets of liquid sulphur that form miniature stalactites and deltas of sulphur, piling up on the ground. These deposits are broken into blocks that the miners carry out of the crater. From time to time, the tubes become plugged with sulphur and need to be taken out and cleaned. In order to cool and condense the aggressive sulphur steam, the miners spray it with water, similar to a fireman spraying smoke in a fire.


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