Just when you think you had the worst job in the world, multi-award-winning photographer Olivier Grunewald has proven that you, indeed, do not. Braving severe extremes in elevation, temperature, and exposure to toxic gases, Grunewald ventured into the sulfur mine located in the Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia. What he captured is unlike anything most of us have ever seen before.
Did you know that liquid sulfur, when it ignites, flows in a river of blue flame? It looks as though we’ve reached the mouth of the underworld, that at any second, Hades will come traipsing through the toxic cloud and make a grab for our souls. Miners at Kawah Ijen climb to the mountain’s summit at 8660 ft., and then mine sulfur along the shores of a 650-ft.-deep lake of sulfuric acid in the volcano’s crater.
Working at night in treacherous conditions, the workers—most of whom do not wear any sort of protective gear, including gas masks—harvest the sulfur from volcanic caves, carrying loads of 150 to 200 lb. in baskets balanced on their backs and shoulders. For $13 USD a day. Your job doesn’t suck quite as much, now, does it.
[quote] Grunewald lost one camera and two lenses to the harsh conditions in the crater, and when it was over, he threw all of his clothes in the garbage, as the sulfuric smell was so strong and would not wash out.” [/quote]