Mount Kakatau, Exotic Volcano

More than 120 years before December 26’s devastating Sumatra-Andaman Island earthquake, Indonesia suffered another catos-tropic natural disaster when the island volcano of Krakatoa (Krakatau), in the Sunda Strait, 40 kilometers off the west coast of Java on the island of Rakata (813m) in Lampung Province, erupted with unprecedented fury.

The main explosion unleashed a series of massive tsunami waves, some reaching almost 40 meters above sea level, killing more than 36,000 people in the coastal towns and villages along the Sunda Strait on Java and Sumatra islands.

But the effects were experienced on a global scale. Tsunami waves were also recorded or observed throughout the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the American West Coast, South America, and even as far away as the English Channel. The sound of the island’s destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away.

Volcanic ashes, which fell on Singapore 840 kilometers to the north, Cocos Island 1155 kilometers to the southwest, and ships as far as 6076 kilometers west northwest, swirled around the planet for years, affecting incoming solar radiation and causing temperatures to plunge. Three months after the eruption, the dust had spread to higher latitudes causing such vivid red sunset afterglows that fire engines were called out in New York, Poughkeepsie, and New Haven to quench the apparent blaze.

Krakatoa’s dramatic history and emergence of a new island, son of Krakatau (Anak Krakatau), makes it a popular ‘must-see’ volcano. Now Anak Krakatau has reached about 300 M above sea level. It takes about 4-5 hours by boat to cross the Sunda Strait to this self-contained island volcano, and only 30 minutes to reach the crater summit. This kike takes you through thick vegetation and up barren slopes until you are looking down into the depression occupied by the active cone. From the crater rim, where the heat penetrates your shoes, you can look around and see the remains of the islands.

“It was a demonstration of the utterly confident way that the world, however badly it has been wounded, picks itself up, continues to unfold its magic and its marvels, and sets itself back on its endless trail of evolutionary progress yet again”

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