Few volcanoes have as explosive a place in history as Krakatau, the island that blew itself apart in 1883 with the loudest bang ever recorded on earth. Turning day into night and hurling devastating Tsunami against the shores of java and Sumatra, Krakatau quickly became Volcanology’s A-list celebrity:the one volcano the whole world could name.Today, only a fragment of the original Krakatau remains the gigantic shard of Rakata Island but the volcano is on the boil once again and since 1928 the peak of Child Krakatau has been growing out of the waters once filled by its infamous parents. This legendary peak lies in Sunda Strait.
Few would have guessed that Krakatau would have snuffed itself out with such a devastating swan song. It had been dormant since 1680 and was regarded as little more than a familiar nautical landmark for maritime traffic passing throughout the narrow Sunda Strait. But from many trough to early August in 1883, passing ship reported moderate activity, and by 26 August Krakatau was raging. At 10 am on 27 August 1883, Krakatau erupted so explosively that on island of Rodriguez, more than 46.000 km to the south west,a police chief reported hearing the booming of ”heavy guns from east ward” with its cataclysmic eruptions, Krakatau sent up a record column of ash 80 km high and threw into the air nearly 20 cubic kilometers of rock.Ash fell on Singapore 840 km to the north and on ship as far as 6000 km away, darkness covered Sunda Strait from 10 am on 27 August until dawn the next day.
For more destructive were the great ocean waves that were triggered by the collapse of Krakatau’s cones into its empty belly. A giant Tsunami, more than 40 m high, swept over the nearby shores of Java and Sumatra and the sea wave’s passage was recorded far from Krakatau, reaching Aden (on the Arabian peninsula) in 12 hours over a distance “traveled by a good steamer in 12 days”. Measurable wave effects were devastated-165 villages were destroyed and more than 36.000 people were killed.
The following day a telegram sent to Singapore from Batavia (160 km east from Krakatau) reported add details such as ”fish and dizzy and caught with glee by natives” and for three years ash clouds circled the earth, creating strange and spectacular sunset. The astonishing return of life to the devastated island’s has been the subjects of scientific study ever since. North a single plant was found on Krakatau a few months after the event:100 years later-although the only fauna are snakes,insects, rats, bats and birds-it seem almost as tough the vegetation was never disturbed.
Krakatau blew it self to smithereens but Child of Krakatau has been on the ascendant ever since its first appearance nearly 103 years ago. It has a restless and uncertain temperament, sending out showers of glowing rocks and belching smoke and ashes. Krakatau is still a menacing volcano, and in its more active phases intermittent rumblings can be heard on quiet nights from the west coast beaches. Boats can sometimes land on the eastern side and at the time of writing, the organized tour were taking to neighboring islands. Walking to the edge of the caldera is never advisable and you should seek qualified advice before making any trip to the volcano. No visit to Indonesia can be complete without to visit a Krakatau ”the volcano that shook the world".