Krakatoa (Indonesian: Krakatau), is a volcanic island made of a’a lava in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The name is used for the island group, the main island (also called Rakata), and the volcano as a whole. The island exploded in 1883, killing approximately 40,000 people, although some estimates put the death toll much higher. The explosion is still considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard nearly 3,000 miles (4,828 km) from its point of origin. The shock wave from the explosion was recorded on barographs around the globe.
The eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ) — about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little Boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomba (50 Mt), the largest nuclear device ever detonated. The cataclysmic explosion was distinctly heard as far away as Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) away, and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 21,007 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa.
The resulting veil of acidic areosols and volcanic dust provided an atmospheric shield capable of reflected enough sunlight to cause global temperatures to drop by several degrees. This aerosol-rich veil also generated spectacular optical effects over 70% of the earth’s surface. For several years after the 1883 eruption, the earth experienced exotic colors in the sky, halos around the sun and moon, and a spectacular array of anomalous sunsets and sunrises. Artists were fascinated by these aerial displays and captured them on canvas. The painting shown here is one such sunset captured by the artitst William Ascroft on the banks of the River Thames in London, on November 26, 1883 (Courtesy of Peter Francis).
Child of Krakatoa
On December 29, 1927, a group of Javanese fisherman who were startled by steam and debris bleching from the sea above the collapsed caldera, thus marking the reawakening of Krakatau after 44 years of calm. The activity continued, and on January 26, 1928 the rim of a basaltic scoria cone first appeared above sealevel. A year later, it had grown into a small island which was quickly dubbed Anak (“Child of”) Krakatau.
Krakatoa: The Last Days
Krakatoa: The Last Days (also titled Krakatoa: Volcano of Destruction in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel) is a BBC Television docudrama that premiered on May 7, 2006 on BBC One. The program is based upon a selection of four eyewitness accounts of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, an active stratovolcano between the islands of Sumatra and Java, present day Indonesia. The film also portrays a family trying to escape the devastating volcano and a ship with more than 100 passengers trapped at sea when the eruption reaches its height.
This segment features the Beijerinck (Beyerinck) family in the village of Ketimbang, Sumatra. Controller Willem Beijerinck was one of seven assigned to oversee the growth and development of the Dutch colonies. Krakatoa had been building up activity, sending forth little explosions and a column of smoke from May to July. Many viewed this phenomenon as spectacular yet harmless. But to a few, such as Johanna Beijerinck, Willem’s wife, this was an ominous sign of terrible things to come. This is her account from her journal.
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