Maurice & Katia Krafft, A Couple Who Was Introducing Ijen Crater To the World

"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". (Maurice Krafft, 1975)

Ijen Crater, Banyuwangi, Indonesia, already known as world-class tourism destination. Blue Fire phenomena in Ijen Mount, the most acid lake in the world, and traditionally mining activity from the miners, has been attracted thousands tourists to visiting and hike up the most eastern tip of Java Island yearly (Djanan, 2017). Perhaps, most of the tourist (especially local tourist) only looking for the exotic from their selfie-camera with Ijen’s amazing view as its background as the main purpose. But apparently, Ijen is not only known from its exotic and unique panoramas, Ijen also known from science research publication journals. Then, the research publication journals was inviting the foreigner tourist come, with main purpose is getting a rare opportunity as a witness from volcanic phenomena that couldn’t be seen in every part of the world.

maurice krafft

According to the history record, Ijen Crater already knows by European since 17th century. In 1770, VOC (Dutch Trade Company in Indonesia) was overrun in Banyuwangi and build a fort named Utrecht, 48 km southeast from Ijen Crater. In 1786 the sulphur from Ijen Crater already has been mined for gunpowder industry (Bosch, 1858). In 1789 Ijen Crater was visited by Clemens de Harris, Fort Utrecht commander (Oudgast, 1820). Then in 1805, Jean-Baptiste Louis Claude Theodore Leschenault La Tour, a botanist and ornithologist from France was visited dan did some observation there (de La Tour, 1858).

Since VOC era (1770) until 19th century ends, Ijen Crater often be an observational object in some research, exploration, and tourism by European. In modern era, there are two volcanology researcher from France went to Ijen Crater to do research, they are Maurice Paul Krafft and his wife Catherine Josephine Conrad (Katia Krafft), they went in Ijen Crater in 21th of December 1971. They did an extreme-enough research, to the extent that they’re still newlyweds, do some monitoring by latex boat on the acid lake Ijen. Indeed, that activity is risking their life. However, the water inside the lake contains high scale in pH (> 0,5) and could dissolve skin and meat instantly.

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Katia Krafft was born in 17th April 1942 in Soultz-Haut-Rhin, she got master’s degree in geochemical study, and got a honor for her scientific works. And Maurice Krafft was born in 25th March 1946 in Mulhouse, he is a member of Geological Society of France since 15 years old, he got master’s degree in geology. Both lectures on University of Strasbourg, France.

Maurice & Katia Krafft are the first people whom introducing Ijen Crater Banyuwangi to the world in modern era. Their research results was published in a book “À l’assault des Volcans, Islande, Indonésie” in 1975. In their research in Banyuwangi, they’re reviewing about geological history, eruption type, chemical parts of Ijen’s lake, last eruption,and its potential and danger.

Maurice and Katia married in 18th August 1970. As a couple that has high-interest to volcano, they did their honeymoon also on the volcano in Santorini Island, Greece. Few months later after their honeymoon, they went to Ijen Crater in January 1971 and another volcano in Indonesia within 1971. Then in 1975, their book, “À l’assault des Volcans, Islande, Indonésie” was published then few years later Ijen Crater knows by international as an unique and wonderful stratovolcano.

Both volcanologist become famous with their documentations bank about volcanos that was collected along 25 years. They collect about 4.600 journals, hundreds of film rolls, about 300.000 photos and beautiful slides about volcano, 300 hours length video, 6000 ancient lithograph, etc. Along 25 years their activity, they already wrote 20 titles of book, and one of the especially reviewing Ijen Crater and Indonesia in every aspect. Nowadays, if we ask to the tourist “where do oy come from?” most of them said that they come from France and another parts of Europe.

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That’s why, we need to give highest appreciation to Maurice & Katia Krafft as the first people that was popularize Ijen Crater. We need to learn from their spirit and dedication for science, tourism industry, and economic effect by Ijen to Indonesian people (especially Banyuwangi people).

Tragic, in 3rd of June 1991, Maurice & Katia Krafft must died with 42 others because of pyroclastic flows, when they’re on the duty in Unzen Volcano, Japan.Their corpse found two days later after the disaster.

(Fitra Surya Ari Pramana, 2018)

Greetings, Let’s traveling with Ijen Impressive Tours.