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Krakatoa was a volcanic island in Indonesia located on the Sundra Strait. Krakatoa is famous for being the sight of the most power volcanic eruption in recorded history. It is also considered one of the deadliest killing over 100,000 people at its conclusion.
The region where the volcano resided in located on the ring a fire a region of volcanic and seismic activity that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. The cataclysmic eruption that happened did have some warning signs. For a couple of years before the final eruption, the region experienced intense earthquakes that were felt as far as Australia. The nearby volcanoes also become active emitting steam. However, no one was prepared for what would happen next.
The first eruptions started on Aug 12. The main event happend on later on 25 when the Krakatoa literally blew apart in four stupendous explosions. To explain how powerful it is, it had the force of the detonation of 200 megatons of TNT. The noise was so powerful that eardrums of nearby sailors in the region burst. It was also heard over 4800 km at one point. The eruptions also created a smoke plume of ash over 30 km tall and set of a series of tsunamis in the region. Ironically for such a powerful eruption, relatively few people were killed just over 1,000.
What makes the Krakatoa Volcano the deadliest in history was the after effects. These effects were the cause of officially 36,000 deaths but some accounts assert that over 100,000 died. These people died from tsunamis, hot ash, or pyroclastic flows. Even with this horrific damage, the trouble did not stop there.
Krakatoa’s eruption emitted so much ash that it literally altered the world’s climate in way not seen since the age of the dinosaurs. The Northern Continents of the North America, Europe,and Asia experienced a drastic drop in temperatures that created what was later called the “Year without Summer” numerous crops failed and the citizens of many unfortunate countries faced starvation.
The island of Krakatoa itself was devastated. The center of the island sank beneath the waves like fabled Atlantis. However, the area stayed active and a new volcano the Anak Krakatoa, the “Child of Krakatoa” grew up in its place.
Few volcanoes in modern history have exhibited the sheer power of Krakatoa or even had such a profound effect. To this day scientists are still researching the volcano to better understand the how and why of the eruption.
There are also some great resources online if you want to learn more about the Krakatoa eruption. There is a great web page on Krakatoa by the Sand Diego State University. You can also check out a Daily Mail news article online that talks about the possibility of another major eruption from Krakatoa.
You can also listen to listen to Astronomy Cast. Episode 141 Volcanoes Hot and Cold is an informative episode.