An 1888 lithograph of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.
|Elevation||813 m (2,667 ft)|
|Prominence||813 m (2,667 ft)|
Krakatoa, or Krakatau (Indonesian: Krakatau), is a volcanic island situated in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The name is also used for the surrounding island group and the volcanoes as a whole. The Krakatoa volcanoes erupted and exploded in 1883, causing massive tsunamis and killing at least 36,417 people, while simultaneously destroying over two-thirds of Krakatoa island. The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard up to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. The shock waves from the explosion were recorded on barographs around the globe.
Currently, what had been the northernmost of the three pre-1883 Krakatoa volcanoes, Perboewatan, has re-emerged from the ocean, and is the principal force in the on-going formation of a new island, Anak Krakatau, or "Child of Krakatoa".
The most notable eruptions of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions over August 26–27, 1883, which were among the most violent volcanic events in recorded history.
With an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6, 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 Tsar Bomba (50 Mt), the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated.
The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 21 km3 (5.0 cu mi) of rock, ash, and pumice. The cataclysmic explosion was heard in Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) to the south, as well as the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) to the west.
According to the official records of the Dutch East Indies colony, 165 villages and towns were destroyed near Krakatoa, and 132 were seriously damaged. At least 36,417 people died, and many more thousands were injured, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa.
Eruptions in the area since 1927 have built a new island at the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for "Child of Krakatoa"). Periodic eruptions have continued since, with recent eruptions in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. As of late 2011, this island has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi), and a high point of about 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level, growing 5 metres (16 ft) each year.
Although there are earlier descriptions of an island in the Sunda Strait with a "pointed mountain," the earliest mention of Krakatoa (Indonesian: Krakatau) by name in the western world was on a 1611 map by Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, who labelled the island "Pulo Carcata" (pulo is the Sundanese word for "island"). About two dozen variants have been found, including Crackatouw, Cracatoa, and Krakatao (in an older Portuguese-based spelling). The first known appearance of the spelling Krakatau was by Wouter Schouten, who passed by "the high tree-covered island of Krakatau" in October 1658.
The origin of the Indonesian name Krakatau is uncertain. The Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program cites the Indonesian name, Krakatau, as the correct name, but says that Krakatoa is often employed. While Krakatoa is more common in the English-speaking world, the Indonesian Krakatau tends to be favored by others, including geologists.
Indonesia has over 130 active volcanoes, the most of any nation. They make up the axis of the Indonesian island arc system, which was produced by northeastward subduction of the Indo-Australian Plate. A majority of these volcanoes lie along Indonesia's two largest islands, Java and Sumatra. These two islands are separated by the Sunda Strait, which is located at a bend in the axis of the island arc. Krakatoa is directly above the subduction zone of the Eurasian Plate and the Indo-Australian Plate where the plate boundaries make a sharp change of direction, possibly resulting in an unusually weak crust in the region.
At some point in prehistory, an earlier caldera-forming eruption had occurred, leaving as remnants Verlaten (or Sertung); Lang (also known as Rakata Kecil, or Panjang); Poolsche Hoed; ("Polish Hat") and the base of Rakata. Later, at least two more cones (Perboewatan and Danan) formed and eventually joined with Rakata, forming the main island of Krakatoa. At the time of the 1883 eruption, the Krakatoa group comprised Lang, Verlaten, and Krakatoa itself, an island 9 km (5.6 mi) long by 5 km (3.1 mi) wide. There were also the tree-covered islet near Lang (Poolsche Hoed) and several small rocky islets or banks between Krakatoa and Verlaten.
There were three volcanic cones on Krakatoa island: Rakata, (820 m or 2,690 ft) to the south; Danan, (450 m or 1,480 ft) near the center; and Perboewatan, (120 m or 390 ft) to the north.
416 AD event
"A thundering sound was heard from the mountain Batuwara [now called Pulosari, an extinct volcano in Bantam, the nearest to the Sunda Strait] which was answered by a similar noise from Kapi, lying westward of the modern Bantam [Bantam is the westernmost province in Java, so this seems to indicate that Krakatoa is meant]. A great glowing fire, which reached the sky, came out of the last-named mountain; the whole world was greatly shaken and violent thundering, accompanied by heavy rain and storms took place, but not only did not this heavy rain extinguish the eruption of the fire of the mountain Kapi, but augmented the fire; the noise was fearful, at last the mountain Kapi with a tremendous roar burst into pieces and sank into the deepest of the earth. The water of the sea rose and inundated the land, the country to the east of the mountain Batuwara, to the mountain Rajabasa [the most southerly volcano in Sumatra], was inundated by the sea; the inhabitants of the northern part of the Sunda country to the mountain Rajabasa were drowned and swept away with all property ... The water subsided but the land on which Kapi stood became sea, and Java and Sumatra were divided into two parts."
There is no geological evidence of a Krakatoa eruption of this size around that time; it may describe loss of land which previously joined Java to Sumatra across what is now the narrow east end of the Sunda Strait; or it may be a mistaken date, referring to a later eruption in 535 AD, for which there is some corroborating historical evidence.
535 AD event
David Keys, Ken Wohletz, and others have postulated that a violent volcanic eruption, possibly of Krakatoa, in 535 may have been responsible for the global climate changes of 535–536. Keys explores what he believes to be the radical and far-ranging global effects of just such a putative 6th-century eruption in his book Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World. Additionally, in recent times, it has been argued that it was this eruption which created the islands of Verlaten, Lang, and the beginnings of Rakata —all indicators of early Krakatoa's caldera's size. To date, however, little datable charcoal from that eruption has been found.
Thornton mentions that Krakatoa was known as "The Fire Mountain" during Java's Sailendra dynasty, with records of seven eruptive events between the 9th and 16th centuries. These have been tentatively dated as 850 AD, 950 AD, 1050 AD, 1150 AD, 1320 AD, and 1530 AD.
"...I saw with amazement that the island of Krakatoa, on my first trip to Sumatra [June 1679] completely green and healthy with trees, lay completely burnt and barren in front of our eyes and that at four locations was throwing up large chunks of fire. And when I asked the ship's Captain when the aforementioned island had erupted, he told me that this had happened in May 1680 ... He showed me a piece of pumice as big as his fist."
Vogel spent several months in Batavia, returning to Sumatra in November 1681. On the same ship were several other Dutch travellers, including Elias Hesse, a writer. Hesse's journal reports:
"...on the 19th [of November 1681] we again lifted anchor and proceeded first to the north of us to the island of Sleepzie (Sebesi), uninhabited, ... and then still north of the island of Krakatou, which erupted about a year ago and also is uninhabited. The rising smoke column of this island can be seen from miles away; we were with our ship very close to shore and we could see the trees sticking out high on the mountain, and which looked completely burned, but we could not see the fire itself."
The eruption was also reported by a Bengali sea captain, who wrote of the event later, but who had not recorded it at the time in the ship's log. Neither Vogel nor Hesse mention Krakatoa in any real detail in their other passages, and no other travelers at the time mention an eruption or evidence of one. (In November 1681, a pepper crop was being offered for sale by inhabitants.) In 1880, Verbeek investigated a fresh unweathered lava flow at the northern coast of Perboewatan, which could not have been more than a couple of centuries old.
Visit by HMS Discovery
In February 1780 the crews of HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, on the way home after Captain James Cook's death in Hawaiʻi, stopped for a few days on Krakatoa. They found two springs on the island, one fresh water and the other hot. They described the natives who then lived on the island as "friendly" and made several sketches. (In his journal, John Ledyard calls the island "Cocoterra.")
In 1620 the Dutch set up a naval station on the islands and somewhat later a shipyard was built. Sometime in the late 17th century an attempt was made to establish a pepper plantation on Krakatoa but the islands were generally ignored by the Dutch East India Company. In 1809 a penal colony was established at an unspecified location, which was in operation for about a decade. By the 1880s the islands were without permanent inhabitants; the nearest settlement was the nearby island of Sebesi (about 12 km away) with a population of 3,000.
Several surveys and mariners' charts were made, and the islands were little explored or studied. An 1854 map of the islands was used in an English chart, which shows some difference from a Dutch chart made in 1874. In July 1880, Rogier Verbeek, made an official survey of the islands but he was only allowed to spend a few hours there. He was able to collect samples from several places, and his investigation proved important in judging the geological impact of the 1883 eruption.:9
The 1883 eruption
While seismic activity around the volcano was intense in the years preceding the cataclysmic 1883 eruption, a series of lesser eruptions began on May 20, 1883. The volcano released huge plumes of steam and ash lasting until late August.
On August 27 a series of four huge explosions almost entirely destroyed the island. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,110 km (1,930 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away. The pressure wave from the final explosion was recorded on barographs around the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. The recordings show that the shock wave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe seven times. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi). The sound of the eruption was so loud it was reported that if anyone was within ten miles (16 km), they would have gone deaf.
The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes, and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region and world-wide. The death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at more than 120,000. There are numerous documented reports of groups of human skeletons floating across the Indian Ocean on rafts of volcanic pumice and washing up on the east coast of Africa up to a year after the eruption. Average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius in the year following the eruption. Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.
Verbeek, in his report on the eruption, predicted that any new activity would manifest itself in the region which had been between Perboewatan and Danan. This prediction came true on 29 December 1927, when a submarine lava dome in the area of Perboewatan showed evidence of eruptions (an earlier event in the same area had been reported in June 1927). A new island volcano rose above the waterline a few days later. The eruptions were initially of pumice and ash, and that island and the two islands that followed were quickly eroded away by the sea. Eventually a fourth island named Anak Krakatau broke water in August 1930 and produced lava flows faster than the waves could erode them. These new islands are of considerable interest to volcanologists, and have been the subject of extensive study.
Anak Krakatau has grown at an average rate of five inches (13 cm) per week since the 1950s. This equates to an average growth of 6.8 meters per year. The island is still active, with its most recent eruptive episode having begun in 1994. Quiet periods of a few days have alternated with almost continuous Strombolian eruptions since then.
Hot gases, rocks, and lava were released in an eruption in April 2008. Scientists monitoring the volcano have warned people to stay out of a 3 km zone around the island. Several videos of Krakatoa on YouTube show recent footage of eruptions and of the inside of the crater as seen from the rim of the volcano.
On 6 May 2009 the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia raised the eruption alert status of Anak Krakatau to Level III. A recent expedition to the volcano has revealed that a 100 m wide lava dome is growing in its crater. The dome has two active vents that eject incandescent gas.
The islands had been little studied or biologically surveyed before the 1883 catastrophe—only two pre-1883 biological collections are known: one of plant specimens and the other part of a shell collection. From descriptions and drawings made by the HMS Discovery, the flora appears to have been representative of a typical Javan tropical climax forest. The pre-1883 fauna is virtually unknown but was probably typical of the smaller islands in the area.
From a biological perspective, the Krakatau problem refers to the question of whether the islands were completely sterilized by the 1883 eruption or whether some indigenous life survived. When the first researchers reached the islands in May 1884, the only living thing they found was a spider in a crevice on the south side of Rakata. Life quickly recolonized the islands, however; Verbeek's visit in October 1884 found grass shoots already growing. The eastern side of the island has been extensively vegetated by trees and shrubs, presumably brought there as seeds washed up by ocean currents or carried in birds' droppings (or brought by natives and scientific investigators). It is, however, in a somewhat fragile position, and the vegetated area has been badly damaged by recent eruptions.
A German, Johann Handl, obtained a permit to mine pumice in October 1916. His lease of 8.7 square kilometres (3.4 sq mi) (basically the eastern half of the island), was to be for 30 years. He occupied the south slope of Rakata from 1915 to 1917, when he left due to "violation of the terms of the lease." (According to Winchester, Handl arrived in 1917 and stayed there for four years.) Handl built a house and planted a garden with "4 European families and about 30 coolies". It is his party that is believed to have inadvertently introduced the black rat to the island. Handl found unburned wood below the 1883 ash deposits while digging, and fresh water was found below 18 feet (5.5 m).
- List of volcanic eruptions by death toll
- List of volcanoes in Indonesia
- Krakatoa documentary and historical materials
- Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions
- Dunk, Marcus (2009-07-31). "Will Krakatoa rock the world again?". London: Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Breining, Greg (2007). "The Deadliest Volcanoes". Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park. Voyageur Press. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7603-2925-2.
- Hopkinson, Deborah (January 2004). The Volcano That Shook the World: Krakatoa 1883 11 (4). New York: Storyworks. p. 8. Unknown parameter
- "How Krakatoa made the biggest bang". London: The Independent. 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
- "Anak Krakatau". Retrieved 2011-11-10.
- "Krakatau". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0602-00%3D.
- Note:The main theories are:
- Onomatopoeia, imitating the noise made by cockatoos (Kakatoes) which used to inhabit the island. However, Van den Berg points out that these birds are found only in the "eastern part of the archipelago" (meaning the Lesser Sundas, east of Java, on the other side of the Wallace Line).
- From Sanskrit karka or karkata or karkataka, meaning "lobster" or "crab". (Rakata also means "crab" in the older Javan language.) This is considered[by whom?] the most likely origin.
- The closest Malay word is kelakatu, meaning "white-winged ant". Furneaux points out that in pre-1883 maps, Krakatoa does somewhat resemble an ant seen from above, with Lang and Verlaten lying to the sides like wings.
- Van den Berg (1884) recites a story that Krakatau was the result of a linguistic error. According to the legend, a visiting ship's captain asked a local inhabitant the island's name, and the latter replied, "Kaga tau" (Aku enggak tahu)—a Jakartan/Betawinese slang phrase meaning "I don't know". This story is largely discounted; it closely resembles other linguistic myths about the origin of the word kangaroo and the name of the Yucatán Peninsula.
- Note: This spelling has been attributed to a sub-editor at The Times (who may have typographically swapped the 'a' and 'o' of the Portuguese spelling) interpreting telegraphic reporting on the massive eruption of 1883.
- Winchester 2003, p. 183.
- "Volcanoes of Indonesia". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 25 March 2007.
- Note: apparently because it looked like a hat from the sea
- Note: The dating of these events is currently unknown. The Sunda Strait was first mentioned by Arab sailors around 1100 AD.
- "Krakatau version 1.0, Part 2". The Anthropogene. 2003-11-11. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Wohletz KH, 2000, Were the Dark Ages triggered by volcano-related climate changes in the 6th century? EOS Trans Amer Geophys Union 48(890), F1305.
- Thornton, Ian; Krakatau: The Destruction and Reassembly of an Island Ecosystem (1996)Template:47
- Note: Vogel returned to Amsterdam in 1688 and published the first edition of his journal in 1690.
- Winchester 2003, p. 132–133.
- Note: Historians Van den Berg and Verbeek both conclude that Vogel must have exaggerated the extent of the eruption he saw. Even so, there must have been an eruption around this time.
- Symons, G.J. (ed) ''The Eruption of Krakatoa and Subsequent Phenomena'' (Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society). London, 1888. Books.google.com. 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2011-03-17.
- Winchester 2003, p. 154–166.
- "Indonesia's Krakatau roars, dazzles with fireworks". Reuters India. 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Anak Krakatoa from safer distance". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-03-17.
- "Krakatau". YouTube. 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2011-03-17.
- "VSI Alert". Volcanological Survey of Indonesia. Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
- Wilson, Edward. O. (1999). The Diversity of Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 425.
- Backer, Cornell's Andries (1929). The Problem of Krakatau, as Seen by a Botanist. author, at Weltevreden, Java.
- Alfred, E. & Seward, A.C.; The New Flora of the Volcanic Island of Krakatau, (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-108-00433-6)
- Dickins, Rosie; The Children's Book of Art (An introduction to famous paintings) Usborne Publishing Ltd., Usborne House, 83–85 Saffron Hill, London ISBN 978-0-439-88981-0 (2005)
- Furneaux, Rupert; Krakatoa Secker and Warburg, London (1965)
- Self, Stephen & Rampino, Michael R. (1981). "The 1883 eruption of Krakatau". Nature 294 (5843): 699–704. Bibcode:1981Natur.294..699S. doi:10.1038/294699a0.
- Simkin, Tom and Richard S. Fiske (editors); Krakatau, 1883—the volcanic eruption and its effects Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-87474-841-0 (1983)
- Symons, G.J. (ed); The Eruption of Krakatoa and Subsequent Phenomena (Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society) London (1888)
- Thornton, Ian; Krakatau: The Destruction and Reassembly of an Island Ecosystem (1996)
- Verbeek, R. D. M. (1884). "The Krakatoa eruption". Nature 30 (757): 10–15. Bibcode:1884Natur..30...10V. doi:10.1038/030010a0.
- Verbeek, Rogier Diederik Marius; Krakatau Batavia (1885)
- Winchester, Simon (2003). Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-621285-5.
- Wilson, Edward O. (1999). The Diversity of Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 425. ISBN 0-393-31940-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Krakatoa|
- Krakatau 2010
- Photos of Krakatoa from 2004 to 2009
- Photos of Krakatoa from 2011 to 2012
- "In het Rijk van Vulcaan" – "In the Realm of the Volcano", eyewitness account by R.A. van Sandick (Dutch)
- 1883 Eruption of Krakatau from the United States Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory
- Krakatau, Indonesia (1883) – information from San Diego State University about the 1883 eruption
- Krakatoa Volcano: The Son Also Rises – companion website to the NPR programme
- On-line images of some of Ashcroft's sunset sketches
- BBC World Service programme 'Witness' talks to Simon WInchester
- Krakatau image gallery from Volcano World, a Public Outreach project of the North Dakota and Oregon Space Grant Consortia, administered by the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University