February 4, 2023

East Valley Times

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Krakatoa Volcano’s Violent Eruption: Recorded Loudest Sound and How Flashes Reached Buenos Aires

If the explosion Volcano Krakatoa What happened today in August 1883 Indonesia For example, it would have happened in Latin America The sound of the explosion could have been heard from Bogotá, Ottawa, Canada to Buenos Aires in the next four hours. The loudest sound ever recorded in history created a shock wave that circled the Earth seven times. Even after five days it was recorded in some places.

The eruption caused sound and light phenomena, fires, tsunamis and climate changes on a planetary scale.

As for optical effects, a report from the Royal Academy of Sciences in London a month later, in late September of that year, “Flashes started in Buenos Aires. They lasted for an hour and a half. Each time the sun and moon changed color.

London’s Royal Academy of Sciences report 1883 illuminations observed in Buenos Aires.

The outbreak also affected global climate, causing A “Volcanic Winter” by the ash cloud in the atmosphere. In the year following the eruption, the average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere dropped by 0.4°C. It is even said to be the color of the sky in painting “Scream” The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944), was inspired by this phenomenon.

"The Scream"Edvard Munch
“The Scream” by Edvard Munch

Testimonies collected at the time gave an account of these unique events, which were interpreted by many as cataclysmic. “I am sure that the day of judgment has arrived. Captain Samson of the British ship Norham Fort wrote in his logbook while crossing the neighboring Sonda Strait.

For the Indonesian people, mostly Muslims, the disaster is a divine sign. “Islamists, with a fatalistic view of life, They saw the tragedy as God’s punishment for the Christian colonial government“, he said Nation Historian of Jakarta Devi Riskianingramof the National Agency for Innovation and Research (PRW-BRIN).

"The Javanese Catastrophe"On the cover of La Nazion, weeks after the tragedy
“Java Disaster”, on the cover of La Nazion, weeks after the tragedy

Krakatoa, which disappeared on the day of the last eruption, remains where it was then “East Indies” Dutch colony (Republic of Indonesia since 1945). This region has landscapes of unique beauty Jagged and smoking cones of volcanoes poke above the clouds. Contains 17% of the world’s active volcanoes and is known as “The Fire Belt”, the most active part of the planet.

Monte Bromo en Indonesia
Monte Bromo en IndonesiaShutterstock

The entire area is thoroughly researched by experts.

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David BaldSpokesperson for the Volcanology Association of the Canary Islands (Involcan) – It had intense activity with the eruption of La Palma volcano a year ago– explained Nation The disastrous explosion of August 27, 1883 “was the result. The collision of two tectonic plates has already caused several eruptions throughout history, the most recent being in 1680. But two centuries of inactivity ensued A plug in the throat of a volcano It certainly affected the violence of the last explosion,” he pointed out.

On that August morning 139 years ago, the ship Norham was 75 kilometers from Fort Krakatoa. Imagining he was witnessing the end of the world, the captain noted in his diary: “The explosions were so violent that more than half of my crew had their eardrums shattered. My last thoughts are with my beloved wife.”.

Calvo noted “The radius of Krakatoa’s blast area covers nearly a third of the Earth’s surface.” And he gave some details about sound measurement. The scale is logarithmic so 20 decibels (a whisper) is not twice as loud as 10 decibels (the sound of human breathing), but 10 times louder. “People’s pain threshold starts at 130 decibels. And Krakatoa reached 310 decibels. For reference, nuclear bombs hit 250 decibels.”.

This does not mean that this sound is “heard” everywhere, because when it exceeds 194 decibels, the sound wave is distorted. shock wave (This can also have disastrous consequences).

For example, Calvo shared Nation A video he personally recorded last year at La Palma volcano. There, in the first few seconds, you can see shock waves coming out of the crater 250 meters away, but hear no sound.

In the first seconds of the video, you can see the shock waves at the La Palma volcano captured by volcanologist David Calvo.

One of the most complete records of what happened that morning on the island of Java was left by a Dutch colonist Johanna Beijerinck. her husband, Willem Beijerinck, was the representative of the colonial authority in Ketimbank District, 40 kilometers from the volcano. Most of the film scripts about Krakatoa were based on his diaries.

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This is his account of the tremendous explosion at ten o’clock in the morning.

“Then I heard, besides the sound of falling crystal on the roof, and above the thunder of the mountain, A menacing roar, approaching at lightning speed. My hair stopped falling out. I got up and hugged my youngest son and shouted: ‘Come here, come here, everyone together!’

Time came with tsunami waves 40 meters high, the family had already moved with their children to a shack on a high point on the island, and they later admired the devastation caused by a combination of fire rain and tidal waves. “Of the 3,000 natives who crowded around the hut, about 1,000 died of burns.. And the skin of the survivors was blistered and burned. Elsewhere it was the tsunami that killed more people,” he wrote.

Historian Riskianingrum recalled Nation That is the island Sebesi, 20 kilometers from the volcano, was the first to be hit by the tsunami. “Its 1,600 hectares were completely covered by water and 3,000 people died.. The first colonist to visit the island arrived two weeks later and said: ‘As far as the eye could see it was an expanse of white sand and bones, It is not clear whether they are animal or human bones‘. The floor was covered with a layer of ash 6 meters thickCrystalline fragments of varying sizes line the coastline, from small pebbles to large animal-like rocks.

In total, it is estimated that About 37,000 people died in the Krakatoa eruption..

1 to 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale, Krakatoa was in the 6th division. The explosion in 1980 Mount Saint Helena In the US state of Washington, It was 5 (1/10 the size of Krakatoa). The last blast Type 7 BC Occurred in 1620 on a Greek island Santorini, and is believed to be the source of the Atlantis legend, but there are no survivors to formally record the details. The last blast Type 8 It left a crater 45 kilometers wide that is still there now Yellowstone National Park, USA.

Anak Krakatoa erupted in January this year
Anak Krakatoa erupted in January this year

Half a century after Krakatoa’s disappearance, a “son” was born. Krakatoa baby (literally, “Son of Krakatoa”). Periodic eruptions due to the collision of tectonic plates below sea level gave shape to this new volcano, which never stops growing at a rate that never stops. Four meters per year, and has already reached the same height as its “father”.. Local people are forever paying attention to this “baby” who already has 80 eruptions since birth.

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Anak Krakatoa continues to act like a child”, comments Riskianingram. “It may seem paradoxical because volcanoes pose many threats to humans. But in this case, as long as there are occasional eruptions, people are calm because it means The ‘child’ does not accumulate energy, which eliminates the possibility of a major explosion like the one staged by his ‘father’.‘” concluded the Indonesian historian.