161: Eruption of Krakatoa

"Krakatoa eruption lithograph" by Lithograph: Parker & Coward, Britain; - Image published as Plate 1 in The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena. Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society (London, Trubner & Co., 1888).. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krakatoa_eruption_lithograph.jpg#/media/File:Krakatoa_eruption_lithograph.jpg

Krakatoa eruption lithograph by Parker & Coward. Part of the Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Today marks the 132nd anniversary of the beginning of the eruption of Krakatoa in what is now Indonesia.

Here are some things you may not have known about the eruption:

The island of Krakatoa is located in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra.

Krakatoa is located at the subduction zone of the Eurasian Plate and the Indo-Australian Plate which causes the area to be geologically active.

The islands appear to have been only occasionally inhabited, likely due to the volcanic activity and a lack of a harbor for ships to land.

In May of 1883 steam began to escape from the northernmost cone of the island. Earthquakes could be felt as far away as Australia and explosions could be heard in what is now Jakarta, about 100 miles away.

The volcano continued to rumble through the summer.

By the middle of August all vegetation had been killed and the island was covered with a foot and a half of ash.

The eruption started in earnest on August 26 with explosions of ash roughly every 10 minutes. Ships in the area reported ash and hot pumice landing on their decks.

On the morning of August 27, four massive explosions triggered equally massive tsunamis which were responsible for the vast majority of the more than 36,000 deaths caused by the eruption.

The final and largest explosion could be heard nearly 3,000 miles away on an island near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The eruption ruptured the ear drums of sailors 40 miles away and caused a spike in barometric pressure the traveled around the globe an estimated three-and-a-half times.

Two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa was destroyed by the eruption. It produced a volcanic winter where worldwide temperatures were reduced by more than two degrees on average. Temperatures did not return to normal for five years. The ash caused colorful sunsets around the world for several months afterward. It’s believed that the red sky in the background of Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” is an accurate representation of the sky above Norway following the eruption.

Our question, the 1969 disaster film “Krakatoa, East of Java” is loosely based on the 1883 eruption. What is the problem with the title of the movie?

Today is also: Heroes’ Day in Namibia, Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea and Women’s Equality Day in the United States. Unofficially, it’s also National Dog Day and National Cherry Popsicle Day in the United States. It’s the birthday of Britain’s Prince Albert, Mother Teresa and late Washington Post editor Benjamin Bradlee.

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