This Natural Wonder Site That Has Three Separate Lake Colors

Situated on Flores Island in Indonesia, Mount Kelimutu National Park is world-famous for its volcano with separate lake colors. 

The 3 distinct lakes of Mt. Kelimutu have ancient myths associated with them. At times amber, at other times turquoise, and then you find them turning green.

We have seen lakes decked in several pretty crazy hues earlier. But Flores is unique for the collection of separate lake colors. Bang on the upper reaches of the volcanic Mount Kelimutu, there are 3 craters that sport separate lake colors. The colors are changing all the time. It is a perfectly natural phenomenon, but it is the stuff of a traveler’s dream.

Around 50 miles from the town of Moni, the separate lake colors can be seen from some distance off if they are not shrouded in clouds.

The westernmost lake of Mount Kelimutu, Lake of Elders, stays blue most of the time. The Lake of Young Men and Maidens is usually seen in different hues of green while the Enchanted or Bewitched Lake is anything between red and chocolate brown.

While the Lake of Old People is some distance off, the other two lakes are close and separated by just a crater wall. But these separate lake colors can change with the season.

The Reason Behind The Separate Lake Colors

The separate lake colors on Mount Kelimutu are different for a mysterious reason, though the reasons are perfectly natural. The science behind the separate lake colors is relatively well-known. Lake colors or the colors of other water bodies periodically change due to adjustments in the oxidation and reduction status of the water in each of the lakes.

There is also another factor for the separate lake colors and that is the abundance of different major elements. This is typical of volcanic craters. The elements on Mount Kelimutu that contribute to the separate lake colors are iron and manganese among others.

The status of oxidation and reduction depends on the balance of volcanic gas input and the rate of rainfall and is believed to have been mediated by the rising and falling groundwater system inside the volcano.

Mount Kelimutu is considered active but dormant. It last erupted in 1968. The eruptions were between small and medium and mainly consisted of phreatic eruptions. It means that they are steam-driven explosions that occur when water beneath the ground, or on the surface is heated by volcanic activity. 

The heated water begins to boil and can even transform into steam immediately, leading to an explosion. The water on the surface is heated by magma or lava, new volcanic deposits, or hot rocks. The intense heat of such material may cause the water to boil and flash into steam. This generates explosions of water, steam, blocks, ash, and bombs.

The lake surface altitudes of the three lakes also are different significantly, by even as much as tens of meters. This suggests that the aquifers are not interconnected and are independent. Another explanation could be that the densities of the three lakes are significantly different.

This could lead to varying gas content, temperature, and fluid composition in the three lakes, which could cause separate lake colors. But there has not been a definite reason attributed to the changes.

Even more striking is the drastic change in colors over a period of time. A few years back the lakes had turned white, turquoise, and red. And again, at the end of 2009, the waters turned black, turquoise, and chocolate brown.   

In 2010, it wasn’t separate lake colors. Instead, all the three lakes were resplendent in multiple shades of green.

The best time to see the separate lake colors is in July or August, which is a dry season in Indonesia. The best time to catch the resplendent colors of the lake is to reach it at sunrise.

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