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Is Super Volcano Krakatoa Waking Up?

By James Donahue

When it blew its top in August, 1883, the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa became among the most powerful volcanic eruption ever recorded in human history. Now the old volcano is smoking and emitting magma, building a new cone and showing signs of erupting again.

This time if history repeats itself, the effects of an eruption like the one that occurred over a century ago could be catastrophic. The entire area is heavily populated and unprepared for an event of that magnitude.

Because the world is dealing with the issue of extreme climate change and global warming, a volcanic eruption like the one that occurred at Krakatoa would have a severe impact on everyone.

While the island of Krakatoa was virtually uninhabited in 1883, the force of the blast, the toxic ash and the mammoth tsunami it generated destroyed ships in the area, swept neighboring islands destroying up to 165 villages and towns and killed 36,417 people.

The blast was so powerful it destroyed two-thirds of the 23 kilometer square island and generated a tsunami some estimated to have been 130 feet high. The massive wave lifted the steamship Berouw out of Lampong Bay and carried it over a mile up the Koeripan River valley, dropping it thirty feet above sea level. All 28 crew members were killed.

The effects of the tsunami went around the world and were recorded as far away as Hawaii and the coast of California. It was said the sound of the blast was so loud it was heard over one thirteenth of the Earth’s surface, more than 2,200 miles away.

The dust and debris from the blast rose into the stratosphere, eventually circling the earth and acting as a solar filter, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. In the year following the eruption global temperatures were lowered by about 1.2 degrees Centigrade on the average. This affected weather patterns, which remained chaotic for years. Temperatures did not return to normal until 1888, five years later.

The veil of gasses and dust in the stratosphere created spectacular optical effects over about 70 percent of the planet. For years after the eruption people observed exotic colors in the sky, halos around the sun and moon, and a spectacular array of colorful sunsets and sunrises.

Krakatoa remained relatively quiet until 1925 when a small volcanic cone broke through the water from the caldera of the old Krakatoa. Thus was born a new volcanic island now named Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa. This volcano has remained active at intervals ever since, slowly building itself into a new cone.

Volcanic watchers say the volcano has been getting more and more active in recent months and there is concern that it may be preparing for a major eruption.

For the record, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was not the largest known in recorded history. An explosion of Santorin, in the Aegean Sea in the Fifteenth Century BC, was estimated to have been over six times greater than Krakatoa. And the blast that occurred at Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD also was said to have been greater.