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Exploring Nature

Volcanoes like Krakatoa can cause massive amounts of destruction.
Photo from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature

Exploring Nature: Volcano

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria remind me that Mother Nature is not always benevolent and bountiful. Sometimes she is downright violent and vicious.

Perhaps one of the most outstanding demonstrations of her power came in 1883, when the East Indian volcano Krakatoa blew up.

It happened on Aug. 27 and the whole world knew about it because of the noise. The great waves the explosion caused in the sea reached the shores of four continents and were recorded 8,000 miles away. They finally subsided on reaching the English Channel.

The blast caused an air wave that traveled around the world, not once but several times. Where there had once been a mountain half a mile high, there was now a hole a thousand feet deep and many miles across. Krakatoa’s solid rock was pulverized and blasted to a height of 150,000 feet.

Red-hot debris fell to earth and covered an area as big as Texas to a depth of up to 100 feet. Dust from the explosion, blown upward for 30 miles, filled the high atmosphere over almost the whole globe for an entire year. All over the world, the sun was filtered through a veil of dust.

In New York, Paris, London and Cairo, the setting sun appeared blue or copper-colored and the moon and stars were green.

There were no large towns within 100 miles of the volcano, but 36,000 people still lost their lives.

How loud was the explosion? The noise was the loudest ever heard by human ears — deafening in Java, Sumatra and Borneo. People in Australia, 7,000 miles to the eastward, were startled by what they took to be artillery fire.

To the west, the sound circled the globe four times, reaching London, Berlin, St. Petersburg and Valencia.

All in all, it was probably the biggest explosion in recorded history.

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