Krakatoa, also spelled as Krakatao, is an island in the Sunda Strait in Indonesia. It is a volcanic island, and its name is used for the volcano, the island and the island group as well. In 1883, the most well-known eruption of Krakatoa cemented its place as one of the most famous volcanoes in history. This eruption was among one of the most violent anywhere in human history. This eruption had the explosive power equivalent to 13,000 times the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It ejected about twenty-one cubic kilometers of ash, rock and pumice.
The explosion was heard as far away as Perth in Australia, which is 1930 miles away, and on the island of Rodrigues, about three thousand miles away. Near Krakatoa, 166 towns and villages were destroyed, and 130+ cities severely damaged. More than 36,000 people were killed, with many thousand others having been injured. Tsunamis after the eruption caused many of the deaths.
Further eruptions at the site since then have actually built up new land in the same area as the original island. Its name is Anak Krakatau, which is Indonesian for “Child of Krakatoa”. This island is about two kilometers around, and at its highest point, is 300 meters high. The island grows at a rate of 5 meters a year. In an area with many destructive and famous volcanoes, Krakatoa still stands alone. The strait in Indonesia has over 130 active volcanoes, by far the most of any nation in the world. The volcanoes make up the axis of the island arc system of Indonesia. Most of the strait’s volcanoes lie along the two largest islands, Sumatra and Java.
Volcanologists have put forward the belief that a violent eruption of Krakatoa in 535 A.D. may have been the catalyst for a global climate change that took place in 535 and 536 A.D. There isn’t any datable charcoal from that eruption that has been found to date. But this could speak of the size of Krakatoa’s caldera. Krakatoa, one of the most famous volcanoes, is also called “The Fire Mountain” by early historians, with seven eruptions tentatively dated from 850 to 1530 A.D.
Since 1950, Anak Krakatau has grown at a rate of five inches per week. The island is still very active; its most recent eruption began in 1994. Quiet periods numbering days have alternated with continuous Strombolian eruptions, and occasionally larger explosions. The most recent eruption started in 2008, when lava, rocks and hot gases were released. Volcanologists who monitor the volcano have warned area residents, boaters and tourists to stay out of a three km zone around the island.