Fire and brimstone!

Well, mostly just brimstone…

Mount Iohu, Hokkaido

One of the great things about living in Japan is the abundance of mountains and hot springs. When you’re there, in them you really feel close to nature at its rawest. Recently I was in Hokkaido, the north island, where I visited Mount Iohu. Its name literally means sulphur mountain, and that’s because out of the vents in its side comes bubbling up elemental sulphur.

Sulphur at Mount Iohu

The last time I held some sulfur in my hands was during my Masters research project, when I had the misfortune to drop and break an old mercury thermometer. Not good, considering how toxic mercury is. But we cleaned it up with a paste made from yellow sulfur flowers (that’s what the bottle said!) and slaked lime, a.k.a. calcium hydroxide.

At Mount Iohu it really stunk. Not from sulfur, but from the H2S produced from the reaction between the sulfur and steam. It even felt acidic – as you can see in the top picture, there wasn’t much life along the valley below the sulfur vents! So we didn’t stay too long, just enough to take a quick selfie…

Me at Mount Iohu


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