On August 27, 1883, the most powerful volcanic eruption in history occurred on the small Indonesian island of Krakatoa. The uninhabited island is located west of Sumatra and has continuously grown in size due to its violent volcanic activity creating landmasses of cooled molten rock.
In May of 1883, a German warship reported sightings of a cloud of ash near Krakatoa more than seven-miles high. Nearby inhabitants of Sumatra and Java believed this was cause for festive celebration – it wasn’t.
The volcano erupted months later, almost completely blowing the Krakatoa island apart. Following the explosion, a chain reaction of natural disasters would continue ravaging the planet for years to come. The initial explosion destroyed two-thirds of the island, forcing tsunamis to nearby coasts. Four more eruptions followed the next day.
The explosions from the volcanic blast could be heard from as far as 3,000 miles away as ash and soot were expelled as high as 50 miles. The ash and dust settling drifted around the planet – causing an atmospheric covering that lowered the Earth’s temperature by several degrees.
A whopping 36,000 deaths were estimated in relation to the blast, most of which were attributed to shoreline tsunamis. Waves measuring 120 feet high pummeled islands and caused massive loss of crops, homes and shoreline. Pyroclastic flows (big globs of hot ash, and molten rock) burned nearby islands by floating on the surface of the sea, and eventually making landfall.
Krakatoa remains an active volcano, and to this day holds the record for the largest, and most deadly, volcanic blast in recorded history.
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