Saturday, August 23, 2008

The legacy of Krakatoa

This week marks the 125th anniversary of the devastating eruption of the Indonesian volcano, now an unusual tourist attraction, despite being active. Or because of it...

One hundred and twenty-five years ago this Wednesday occurred the biggest bang the inhabited world has ever known. Indonesia's Krakatoa volcano erupted. It did so with the force of 13,000 Hiroshima atom bombs, propelled a trillion cubic feet of rock, pumice and ash into the air, and made a noise loud enough to be heard 1,930 miles away in Perth. The explosions, fallout and resulting tidal wave (130 feet high in places) killed 36,417 people in Java and Sumatra, destroyed 165 villages and towns, and two-thirds of the island. Wind streams blew the fine ash as far away as New York; sea levels were raised in the English Channel, and over the following year, global temperatures were reduced by 1.2C.

Today, the remains of one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes continue to spit and bubble in the turquoise blue waters of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Now part of Ujung Kulon national park, it is known as Anak Krakatoa, or Krakatoa's child, a post-collapse cone which has emerged from within the caldera of the original volcano over the past half-century and now stands about 600ft above sea level.

This Wednesday, the anniversary of the 1883 eruption, locals and tourists will remember the catastrophe when they visit Anak during the annual Krakatoa Festival – not exactly a celebration, more of a cultural memorial dedicated to one of history's most momentous natural disasters.

Full article by Roger Maynard

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