At 10:02 AM on August 27th, 1883, a volcanic island in modern day Indonesia called Krakatoa erupted. The blast sent shockwaves across the ocean, triggering tsunamis that destroyed the coast of Java and Sumatra. The sound was so loud it was heard 3000 miles away.
As Aatish Bhatia notes in this recent article: “What we’re talking about here is like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland.”
Barometric readings at the time clocked the sound pressure at 172 decibels ONE HUNDRED MILES AWAY from the island.
Here’s a handy reference:
Using a jackhammer – 100 decibels
Human threshold for pain – 130 dB
Standing next to a jet engine – 150 dB
And the scale is logarithmic - so a 10 dB increase doubles the loudness.
Large, explosive volcanoes, like the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, can temporarily alter global climate by injecting sulfurous gases into the high atmosphere. These aerosols cool Earth by slightly shading its surface, reflecting back to space some sunlight that would otherwise shine on it. The way volcanic aerosols reflect light produces vivid red sunsets.
The red skies in Edvard Munch’s famous 1893 painting The Scream are now thought to reflect the eerie twilights seen in Norway for months after Krakatoa’s eruption.
Frontispiece. Sunset colors intensified along the Thames near London after the eruption of Krakatoa. _The eruption of Krakatoa and subsequent phenomena_ Report of the Krakatoa committee of the Royal Society. 1888.
history meme | 2/2 natural disasters | 1883 krakatoa eruption (20 may 1883, dutch east indies)
the dutch colony that would later become modern-day indonesia was home to the krakatoa island and its surrounding volcanoes. the volcanic events began in late may and culminated on 26 august 1883 when several eruptions occured in the krakatoa caldera. the volcanoes erupted and collapsed, destroying over two-thirds of the island. it is said to be the loudest sound ever recorded in history. the amount of energy released is 13,000 times that of the bomb that destroyed hiroshima, japan. the day after the climactic event, a pyroclastic flow of hot ash and rock fell around ketimbang. the “burning ashes of ketimbang” directly caused the deaths of about 1,000 people. the massive amount of ash thrown into the atmosphere sent the planet into a volcanic winter, lowering global temperatures by about 1.2° celcius. tsunamis and aftershocks contributed to the total death toll of 36,417 people (as reported by dutch authorities). most experts place the death toll much higher.
indonesia currently is home to 130 active volcanoes, the most out of any nation. in 1927, anak krakatoa, “child of krakatoa” emerged from the krakatoa caldera. it last erupted in 2012.