Color-Changing Lakes




Kelimutu is a 1600-meter tall volcano on the central Flores, the Island of Indonesia, east of the country’s capital, Ende. This volcano has baffled scientists for hundreds of years as it contains three color-changing lakes that sit side by side which are known to spontaneously alter their colors often due to chemical reactions.

The locals believe the lakes to be the resting place of departed souls, which therefore manifest their emotions of love, anger, and happiness through magnificent colors. Each lake has a separate name, Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People or Ancestors) is the westernmost lake, slightly alienated from the other two. This is usually blue and is where the spirits go when they live a full, righteous life. Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched Lake) are the two other lakes which are green or red and are separated by a crater wall. Any young soul, male or female, whose life was cut short will reside in Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai, and if any young, old, male or female, have lived an immoral life, they will seek out Tiwu Ata Polo. Both of these lakes are usually a blood-red, fluorescent green, or aquatic blue color, even though all the lakes are also known to turn black and white.

Color-Changing Lakes

Kelimutu has been a point of interest to geologists because the three lakes are different colors yet they are on the same volcanic crater. The watercolor changes are due to chemical reactions of minerals which are triggered by volcanic gas activity under the lakes due to fumaroles. Fumaroles are opening’s in the planet’s crust which emits steam and gases such as hydrogen chloride, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide. Ironically, the crater rims are made up of loose rocks and minerals which cause many people to slip and fall into the steaming waters, where they boil to death and end up joining the resting souls who alter this natural phenomenon.