Who was the first to introduce Kawah Ijen Banyuwangi to the world?
Ijen Banyuwangi Crater Tourism has become a world-known destination. The phenomenon of the blue fire of Mount Ijen Banyuwangi, the acid lake of Ijen Crater, and the ongoing activities of the sulfur miners, weekly attracts thousands of foreign tourists to come and climb the volcano at the easternmost tip of Java Island.
Perhaps many of the tourists (especially local people) only see the features of Ijen Banyuwangi Crater in terms of the beautiful and unique panoramic views. Photos and selfies with the background of the Ijen crater became a major purpose for this type of tourist to come to Ijen.
But abroad, in European countries, especially in France, people are more familiar with the Ijen Crater from the results of scientific research. Popular scientific articles about the Ijen Crater invite foreign tourists to come and witness the natural volcanic phenomena that is so unique and that rarely can be found anywhere else in the world.
Ijen Crater of the Quarter of the Millennium
According to historical records, Ijen Banyuwangi Crater was already known by Europeans nearly a quarter of a millennium ago. In 1770, the VOC (Dutch) occupied Banyuwangi and established the “Utrecht” fort, which was about 48 km southeast of Ijen Crater. In 1786, the sulfur from Ijen Crater was being mined for gunpowder (Bosch, 1858).
In 1789 Ijen Crater was visited by Clemens de Harris, commander of the fortress of Utrecht Banyuwangi (Oudgast, 1820). Then in 1805, Jean-Baptiste Louis Claude Théodore Leschenault La Tour, a botanist and avian expert from France visited and observed the Ijen Crater area Leschenault (de la Tour, 1858).
Since when the VOC occupied Banyuwangi (1770), France took power over Java in 1799, then Java was occupied by the British (1811), until finally, the Dutch empire regained control of Java Island on 1816. Ijen Crater has often become an object of observation, research, and exploration in various fields of science. Mainly in the fields of geology, volcanology, mining and minerals, botany, and biology of flora and fauna.
Katia and Maurice Krafft
A former senior sulfur miner named Mr. Budiono, now working on taking care of sulfur distillation, told me that in the 70s he transported a Caucasian volcanology researcher from France named Maurice.
Also Read: Blue Fire Info Ijen Crater HOAX!
After searching various references on official volcanology sites, I found a lot of information about a couple: Maurice and Katia Krafft, the volcanologists and geologists from France who conducted a research in the Ijen Crater back in 1971.
They came to Indonesia thanks to a request of the Indonesian Government and under the auspices of the UNESCO (United Nations of Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). They led a study of volcanoes in the archipelago from 13 May 1971 to 21 December 1971.
Ijen Crater Extreme Research
These French couple carried out a quite extreme research, they were still newlyweds when they decided to explore the Sulfuric Acid Lake of the Ijen crater by using a rubber boat. this activity was quite risky, the water in this lake has a level of acidity near zero, and it can dissolve human skin or flesh in a matter of seconds.
Maurice and Katia Krafft were actually the first who introduced Ijen Banyuwangi Crater to the international world in this modern era. Their research results were published in a book titled “l’autass des volcans, Islande, Indonésie” or “the volcano assault, Iceland, Indonesia” published by Presses de la Cité, Paris, in 1975.
In their research in the Ijen Banyuwangi Crater, they discussed the geological and volcanological history of Mount Ijen, the characteristics of the Ijen eruption over the past 200 years, and the chemical composition of the Ijen Crater lake. They also wrote about the crater lake overflowing river merging into the Banyupahit river which was used as irrigation for 3,500 hectares of agricultural land and consumed by around 100,000 residents, they overviewed the risk of this chemical composition to health.
The Volcano Bride
Catherine Joséphine Conrad (Katia) was born April 17, 1942, in Soultz-Haut-Rhin, she earned a Masters degree in geochemistry, and received many awards for her scientific work in volcanology. Maurice Paul Krafft was born March 25, 1946, in Mulhouse, he was a member of the Geological Society of France since he was 15 years old, he obtained a Masters degree in geology. Both of them attended the University of Strasbourg in France.
They got married on August 18, 1970. As a couple with a high interest in volcanology, their honeymoon was carried out in the volcanic mountains on the island of Santorini, Greece, a few months before they conducted research on Indonesian volcanoes.
Tragically, the volcano hunters who studied 175 volcanic eruptions in nearly 150 countries, finally had to die in the Mount Unzen, Japan. A volcano that waked up after two hundred years of sleep, reactivated and erupted while they were still there.
On June 3, 1991, along with Harry Glicken, an American researcher, and 41 others were killed while serving on Mount Unzen, trapped in pyroclastic flows, volcanic eruptions that move quickly and are composed of gas heat, volcanic ash, and rocks. Their bodies were only found two days later.
Jasa Katia and Maurice Krafft
Both of these volcanologists are famous for their volcanic documentation bank. They collected around 4,600 writings and scientific works in various languages, hundreds of film reels, 300,000 beautiful photos and slides, videos with a total duration of 300 hours, 20,000 geological works, 6000 ancient lithographs and paintings related to volcanos.
During the 25 years of their carriers in volcanology, they written 20 books, already translated into various languages. They set scientific knowledge about volcanology in popular language, so that it is more easily understood. They were also the first to write volcanology books for children from 5 years old and up.
Their last major work was to make a film about the dangers of a volcano. This was the result of their concern after the catastrophic eruption of the “Nevado del Ruiz” in Colombia, which buried the city of Armero and its 22,000 inhabitants on November 13, 1985. They brought photos, videos, sounds, and animations, to educate the government and residents of various regions about the possible dangers of volcanoes.
When Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, with an eruption reaching 40 km, around 300,000 residents agreed to leave their homes after seeing a film about the volcanic risks brought by Katia and Maurice, at the end only 300 citizens were killed.
Ijen Crater Tourism Worldwide
The book “l’assaut des volcans, Islande, Indonésie” or “the volcano assault, Iceland, Indonesia” written by Katia and Maurice Krafft needs to be remembered as the book that made Ijen Banyuwangi Crater known to the world.
To this day if we ask the sulfur miners of Ijen Crater, they say that the most common tourist who come to the Ijen Crater are French tourists. So it’s no wonder that not a few of the sulfur miners are fluent in French, especially the senior ones. For that we can appreciate Katia and Maurice, we recognize them as the first people to popularize the Ijen Crater to the international world.
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“It’s very nice to feel. You’re nothing. You’re just nothing when you’re near a volcano. I have seen so many eruptions in the last 20 years that I don’t care if I die tomorrow. Most volcanologists die in bed.” (Katia and Maurice Krafft).