Today in World History: August 26th

The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, in the Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia), reached a paroxysmal phase. This meant that the volcano’s eruptions had reached a level on par with the eruptions of Mt. Fuji in Japan, as well as Mount Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens in Pompeii and Washington, respectively. The mountain began exploding and expelling ash every ten minutes by the early afternoon, and started sending small tsunamis. By the end of the day, explosions grew bigger and stronger, and by the early morning of August 27th, four large explosions occurred, sending tidal waves as far away as Telok Betong in Malaysia. The sounds of the explosions were heard as far away as Perth, Australia, more than 3,110 km (1,930 mi) away and at the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away. Tsunamis created by the force of the explosions were reported to have reached heights of more than thirty meters. The final and largest explosion was released at such a force that it equaled the same amount of energy released as four Tsar Bombas, the largest nuclear bombs ever created.

By ten o’clock that same morning, one last explosion was triggered by a landslide, and it was released at such a force that sailors’ eardrums more than sixty kilometers away were ruptured by the sound of the explosion. Pressure waves from the explosion were recorded around the world, and they were recorded as having traveled around the world more than three and a half times, by which time Krakatoa had gone silent. After expelling ash more than eighty meters into the sky, killing thousands of people in the surrounding area, along with animals and plants, Krakatoa had been reduced to less than three times of its previous size. The temperature of the Northern Hemisphere the following year was recorded as 1.2 degrees Celsius colder than average, and weather patterns in the world did not return to normal until 1887. By the end, Krakatoa’s eruption was classified as a colossal eruption, ranking 6/8 on the scale that marked the size of the explosion, with eight being the highest. The eruption of Krakatoa was on the same scale as that of Pinatubo, which erupted in the Philippines in 1992, and the 1912 Novarupta eruption in Alaska.

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