Krakatau is a volcano in Indonesia. Eruption in 1883. Photo description

Krakatoa Volcano

Krakatau is an island and an active volcano of the same name in Indonesia, located in the Gulf of Sunda between the islands of Sumatra and Java. Krakatoa volcano is famous not for its size, but for a powerful eruption with catastrophic consequences, which happened in 1883. The whole planet shook from the natural cataclysm – the blast wave went around the Earth several times.

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Video: Krakatoa volcano eruption


The Gulf of Sound, located at the junction of the Eurasian and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, is one of the few places on the planet where the cycle of destruction and rebirth is periodically renewed. During another volcanic eruption that occurred here about a million years ago, a cone-shaped mountain was formed. The height of the new geological formation was 2100 meters, 300 of which were hidden by water. Locals called the newborn volcano “Krakatoa”. Presumably, the word reminded them of the cries of the parrots that lived on it.

Krakatoa activity

Krakatoa Volcano has always been very restless. Surviving written sources testify to frequent violent eruptions that frightened the local population. In 416 the top of the mountain collapsed, and in its place a crater appeared, parts of which became separate islands. In 535, Krakatoa caused another natural disaster, contributing to the formation of the Sunda Strait, which since then separates Sumatra and Java.

Lightning in an eruption

Volcanologists believe Krakatoa was responsible for five major eruptions. But at the end of the nineteenth century the volcano, which had remained calm for the previous 200 years and was thought to be extinct, suddenly came to life. In late May 1883 ash fell from the crater and mushroom clouds appeared over the top of the volcano, the first signs of an eruption that lasted for three months with increasing force. During the summer Krakatoa ejected rock from the depths of the Earth, and on August 27 came the climax of the eruption. At 10 a.m. the volcano was ruptured by a gigantic explosion, which threw ash, pumice and stones up to 80 kilometers high, scattering them over an area of one million square kilometers.

The eruption was more than 10,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The rumble accompanying the cataclysm was the loudest sound ever heard and was clearly audible within a radius of 4,000 kilometers. On the islands of Sumatra and Java the sound power exceeded 180 decibels, well above the human threshold for pain. The power of the explosion was such that even at a distance of 150 kilometers from its epicenter, the shock wave smashed windows, destroyed the roofs of houses and felled trees. On the island of Sesebi, which was 20 kilometers away from Krakatoa volcano, the entire population died in an instant, scorched by a red-hot gas cloud. Clouds of ash covered the sun, and there was almost complete darkness within a radius of more than 100 kilometers. Four hours after the beginning of the disaster a solar eclipse hit Japan.

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Smoke billows from the volcano’s mouth Chunks of magma erupting View of Krakatoa volcano from an airplane

But the worst was yet to come: the eruption triggered a huge 30-meter tsunami that washed more than 300 settlements into the ocean. The catastrophe took the lives of more than 36,000 people, and some estimates put the number as high as 80,000.

The first blast was followed 54 minutes later by a second, just as powerful, but without the accompanying tsunami. A few hours later there was a third fiery outburst. The whole night the volcano was rocked by explosions, ashy rain fell from the sky, and the sea was puffing with huge waves. Powerful currents swept numerous fishing boats into the abyss of the ocean.

Only 10 hours after the eruption had begun, a wave of air, triggered by the volcanic explosion, reached Berlin at a speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour. And within a few days German weather stations recorded the passage of air currents, driven by the blast wave.

In the following days the eruption began to weaken gradually, but it took Krakatoa six months to completely calm down. Until February 1884 the tormented island shook with explosions. But the consequences of the disaster still made themselves felt for a long time – the ash was in the Earth’s atmosphere for several years, which caused a cooling of the climate of the planet.

The dense vegetation of the islands neighboring the volcano is astonishing!

The presence in the air of microparticles erupted by the volcano led to the unusual coloring of sunrises and sunsets. After the natural disaster, the light turned greenish in color, and in the fall in Europe, the sunrays at sunset cast a purple color.

The volcano itself was destroyed by a natural disaster – only three small islands were left of it. The terrain around Krakatoa changed as well – the topography of the sea floor changed, some straits became impassable, new islands were formed, and the former ones became larger. The islands of Sumatra and Java became deserted. Lush tropical vegetation died, the land became bare and gray, and the whole soil was strewn with stones, pieces of solidified lava, mutilated trees, human and animal corpses. In the sea around the volcano a layer of pumice had formed so thick that ships could not break through it.

There was great agitation in the water along the entire coast of the Indian Ocean. The Pacific Ocean was restless and storms raged off the western shores of the American continents. The tsunami even reached the coast of France and the Isthmus of Panama.

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For many days the Earth’s atmosphere was also disturbed – hurricanes raged in the region close to Krakatoa, and strong fluctuations were noted on the barometers of the entire planet.

At the end of November in many places of the European continent precipitation fell with large admixture of volcanic ash and the smallest particles of pumice.

Krakatoa at dawn The coast of the island

Krakatoa volcano after the cataclysm

Several decades after the eruption, the fire-breathing mountain began to revive. In the winter of 1927, an underwater eruption occurred at the site of the destroyed Krakatoa. A few days after this event, a small 9-meter volcano appeared above the water, named anxiously by the people watching it, “Anuk Krakatau,” meaning “Krakatau’s Child.” The formidable crumb, which consisted of pumice and ash, collapsed several times, but three years later intense lava flows formed a new volcano. By 1933, the baby cone had grown to 67 meters.

The scorched earth of Krakatoa Island

Since 1950, Krakatoa Anuk actively grows due to small but frequent eruptions – every week its height increases by 13 centimeters, i.e. almost by 7 meters per year. Currently the young volcano grew to 813 meters, its area is 10.5 sq km and diameter is 4 km. The last activity was recorded on Anuk Krakatau in mid-February 2014, when more than 200 volcanic earthquakes occurred. But so far, the danger of the growing baby is estimated at 2 points on a 4-point system.

Indonesian authorities do not allow locals to settle in the three-kilometer zone around the island. Economic activity is prohibited within a radius of 1.5 km from Anuk Krakatoa, the same distance tourists and fishermen can not approach the island.

Some volcanologists believe that over time the activity of the growing volcano will increase. More optimistic scientists believe that the small size of young Krakatoa will not allow it to arrange a global disaster again.

By the example of the volcano cataclysm, nature has demonstrated its extraordinary ability to recover – after three years ferns began to appear on the lifeless rocks of nearby islands, then flowering plants and insects. By the end of the XIX century on the islands affected by the volcanic disaster, life returned – there were revived mangrove forests and jungles, settled animals and people.

A view of the neighboring island of Sertung There are also quiet days in the life of Krakatoa volcano

A national nature park was established on the Javanese peninsula Ujung-Kulon, which is only 133 kilometers away from Krakatoa volcano, and is home to a wild forest bull, red wolf, gibbon, and smoky leopard. The reserve has sheltered the last remaining on Earth Javanese rhinos, of which there are no more than 50 individuals. In 1992, the park, which includes the volcano, was placed under UNESCO protection in order to preserve the largest lowland rain forest growing here.

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On Anuk Krakatoa itself, the terrain is rather barren, with only a small forest growing on one side of the island, where you can see the remains of weather stations destroyed by frequent eruptions. The aftermath of the explosion is still visible – where there used to be a mountain, you can clearly see a concave depression. The coastline of the island is constantly changing because of the eruptions. Smoke comes not only from the crater of the volcano, but oozes from all the crevices of the mountain, giving the impression that the land is constantly on fire. At the foot of Krakatoa, hills of black volcanic sand alternate with lava and ash.

Krakatoa fascinates with its thrilling sense of danger, and there are many brave souls who dream of seeing and documenting the majestic spectacle of an active volcano, surrounded by pillars of ash and spewing millions of flames!

Tourist information

If you want to see Krakatoa, you have to fly to Jakarta and then take a bus to Mrak Port. From the sea harbor you take a ferry to the port of Bakuaheni in Sumatra, then take a bus to Kalianda. Here you can rent a boat and sail yourself to Krakatoa, but it is more reasonable to buy a tour, which is offered in every hotel. A trip with a guide and lunch will cost $60-70. Service tours comfortable passenger ships.

You can also rent a boat in the ports of Java, the most convenient way is to visit Karita Bay, located just 50 kilometers from Krakatoa.

Although access to the volcano is now closed, during its period of relative calm it is possible to land on the coast and even climb the slopes of Anuk at an altitude of 500 meters. To climb Krakatoa, you should wear comfortable shoes with ribbed soles to protect your feet from the hot sand. Do not climb higher than half a kilometer – the closer to the crater, the greater the possibility of cavities, in which you can fall and become a victim of rocks, occasionally thrown by the volcano.

Krakatoa is a killer volcano. Indonesia

Krakatau volcano is one of the most powerful active volcanoes on the planet. It is also a very active and dangerous volcano. Constant eruptions and widespread destruction is associated with its activity. Thousands of people have become victims of its harsh temper.

Krakatoa Volcano

Where is it

Krakatau volcano lies on the territory of Indonesia between the major islands of Sumatra and Java in the Malay Archipelago. Geographic coordinates are -6.102824, 105.422583

A bit of history

Krakatoa was a common stratovolcano located on the island of the same name in the Pacific Ring of Fire. The size of the island was about 9 by 5 kilometers.

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Krakatoa eruptions were often accompanied by powerful explosions and emissions of significant amounts of ash. According to scientists, one of the grandiose eruptions was in 535. It caused large-scale climatic consequences on the planet. Volcanologists claim that this eruption formed the Sunda Strait, which separates the islands of Java and Sumatra.

Significant volcanic eruptions were recorded in 1680 and 1883.

An interesting fact – the origin of the Indonesian name Krakatoa is still unknown.

Krakatau volcano before the 2019 eruption

Krakatoa eruption in 1883

At the end of August 1883 recorded a powerful eruption that destroyed almost the entire island. The volcanic cone, which reached a height of 1800 meters, was completely destroyed.

The eruption was so strong that the ash rose to a height of 55 kilometers (and according to some reports up to 80 km). The ash then fell within a radius of 500 kilometers, covering an area of up to 800,000 km 2 . About 25 km3 of volcanic rock then erupted from the bowels of the Earth.

Krakatoa eruptions went like this

Krakatoa eruptions usually proceeded as follows

Because of the ash in the air, the surrounding area was plunged into darkness for two and a half days. The fine dust drifted in the atmosphere, causing spectacular red and orange sunsets over the next year.

The explosion generated a catastrophic tsunami. In some areas the waves were up to 37 meters high. More than 36,000 people were killed in neighboring islands as a result of the disaster, according to official reports, and as many as 120,000 according to unofficial reports. There are reports of many human skeletons floating around the Indian Ocean in pieces of volcanic pumice.

According to the Dutch East India Colony, 165 coastal villages and towns around Krakatoa were destroyed and another 132 were significantly damaged.

The force of the volcanic explosion was estimated at 200 megatons of TNT equivalent. This is more than 13,000 times the power of the nuclear bomb dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. It is 4 times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba, the largest man-made explosion on Earth.

Krakatoa compared to Tsar Bomba

Krakatoa compared to the Tsar Bomba

According to the scientists’ estimations, the eruption of the Tambora Volcano (same Indonesia) in 1815 was four times as powerful as Krakatoa.

The rumblings of Krakatoa were felt in the west of Australia at a distance of more than 3000 km, and even not far from Mauritius, 4800 km to the west of the epicenter.

The eruption of Krakatoa lowered the average temperature on Earth by 1.2 o C for an entire year. And seismographs recorded an explosive wave that circled the planet several times.

As you have already understood, this colossal explosion actually destroyed Krakatoa Island. Now only a few fragments are left of it in the form of Sertung, Kesil and Krakatoa (the largest of them all). Between these islands grew a fourth – Anak Krakatau. The entire group of islands is now called the Krakatoa Archipelago. The total area of the islands is about 10km2 .

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Krakatau Archipelago And once it was one island Krakatau

Anak Krakatau – the child of the dead giant

After Krakatoa erupted in 1883, volcanic activity did not stop. In 1927, a new volcano formed from the huge caldera left at the site of the explosion. It was named Anak Krakatau, which means “Child of Krakatau”. It is noteworthy that some scientists warned about the emergence of a new volcano in this place. Since then, eruptions here have hardly stopped.

Anak Krakatoa eruption

Another eruption of Anak Krakatoa

The first new volcano rose 9 meters above sea level. However, it was quickly eroded by the sea. But Anak Krakatau did not give up and reclaimed the right to life from the sea as early as 1930. In 1933 its height was 67 meters, and in 1950 it was 138 meters. But the sea did not retreat, periodically eroding the volcano.

In 1960 another volcano reached a height of 30 meters, in 1968 – 160 meters, and in 1977 – more than 180 meters. Recall that volcanic activity, of varying degrees of power, occurs here with surprising consistency. For example, the most recent eruptions were recorded in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In 2012, the height of the volcano was 324 meters. And it grew every year by about 5 meters. In 2017, the height has already exceeded 400 meters.

Anak Krakatoa would have continued to grow if not for the massive collapse of its cone at the end of December 2018. As a result, its height was reduced to 110 meters, and the volcano lost two-thirds of its volume (about 100 million m 3 ). The tsunami killed 429 people on the nearby coasts, more than 150 people were missing. About 1,500 were injured, and about 16,000 people were evacuated.

Anak Krakatoa eruption

After the 2018 eruption, Anak Krakatoa looks like this The aftermath of the 2018 eruption. Photo: Lund Andersen

Although the original Krakatau volcano doesn’t actually exist now, its descendant, Anuk Krakatau, is often named after its giant predecessor.

Krakatau Volcano Today

To date, Indonesian authorities have prohibited local residents to build houses within a radius of 3 km from the island. The area within a radius of 1.5 km from Anak Krakatau is closed not only to tourists, but also to local fishermen.

Volcanic activity continues.

Note, Indonesia is a country extremely full of volcanoes. Some even have multicolored lakes. For example, the famous Kelimutu tricolor lakes.

Interesting fact – volcano Krakatau is on the banknote of 100 rupiah dated 1992

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