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Son of Krakatoa

Article #194 • Written by Cynthia Wood

Krakatoa may just be the most famous volcano of all time. More devastating than Mt. St. Helens, closer in time than Vesuvius; the volcano that destroyed itself and its island in one tremendous eruption is nearly iconic in the public eye.

The famous eruption of Krakatoa on August 27, 1883 has been estimated as the biggest bang in recorded history, heard over 3000 miles away. It killed over 36,000 people, and destroyed more than 3/4 of its island, literally blowing it to pieces. The cataclysm affected weather world-wide, cooling summers, and causing sunsets so vivid that in Poughkeepsie, NY, firefighters were called to put out the apparent conflagration.

All of this is well-known. What is less well known is that this same volcano is a repeat offender, and it is still with us. The sea bed just to the north of what remains of Rakata island began rising steadily shortly after the famous cataclysm. In 1927, a new island called Anak Krakatoa (Son of Krakatoa) emerged from the sea to take its father's place.

Krakatoa itself is the reformation of an earlier volcano.

The original volcano also exploded, creating the strait between Java and Sumatra. The event is recorded in the Javanese Book of Kings.

"A thundering sound was heard from the mountain Batuwara ... a similar noise from Kapi ... The whole world was greatly shaken and violent thundering, accompanied by heavy rain and storms took place, but not only did not this heavy rain extinguish the eruption of the fire of the mountain Kapi, but augmented the fire; the noise was fearful, at last the mountain Kapi with a tremendous roar burst into pieces and sank into the deepest of the earth. The water of the sea rose and inundated the land, the country to the east of the mountain Batuwara, to the mountain Raja Basa, was inundated by the sea; the inhabitants of the northern part of the Sunda country to the mountain Raja Basa were drowned and swept away with all property... The water subsided but the land on which Kapi stood became sea, and Java and Sumatra were divided into two parts."

The book claims a date of 416 AD for the eruption, though the geologic evidence seems to indicate an eruption of 535 AD. The eruption drowned the land between Java and Sumatra in the ocean, leaving behind only a small ring of tiny islands. The largest of these eventually grew into Krakatoa, an island with three volcanic peaks, and an explosive future.

When Krakatoa exploded, it destroyed two of those three peaks, leaving only the southernmost - Rakata - still above sea level. The original site of the explosion was buried under a thick layer of fallen debris. However, Krakatoa was not to remain hidden for long. In 1927, Javanese fisherman reported seeing steam and debris rising from the collapsed caldera. Anak Krakatoa rose above water for the first time on January 26, 1928. For three years the new island fought a war with the sea, slipping back beneath the waves repeatedly as the waves washed away the pumice and ash that formed it. In 1930, the son of Krakatoa won its battle, and surfaced above the waves for good.

Anak Krakatoa
Anak Krakatoa

Today Anak Krakatoa is 2 km in diameter, and rises more than 150 meters out of the ocean. It has grown an average of 13 cm (5 inches) per week in the last sixty years. It's an active - very active - volcano with multiple episodes of volcanic activity since 1963, the most recent having started in 1994. Since then Anak Krakatoa quiet periods have been measured in days, punctuated with explosions and eruptions. Reports from 2005 indicate that volcanic activity at Anak Krakatoa is increasing. Thus far the eruptions of Anak Krakatoa have been mild, especially as compared to the father. Nonetheless, given its illustrious ancestry, the awe with which many view it seems amply justified.

Article written by Cynthia Wood, published on 08 June 2006. Cynthia is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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39 Comments
AGG
Posted 08 June 2006 at 08:37 am

Wow, it's so incredible how active our world is!


Geeds
Posted 08 June 2006 at 10:13 am

I have finally made an account (after reading EVERY article) on this site, and now I will/can post :)


Shandooga
Posted 08 June 2006 at 10:53 am

I love french toast.


lledra
Posted 08 June 2006 at 11:23 am

I've always found Volcano's to be interesting. And this one, has just been bumped to the top of my list.


godric21ph
Posted 08 June 2006 at 11:38 am

Damn interesting!


rhache
Posted 08 June 2006 at 12:16 pm

I read about this in the book Krakatoa : The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester. The book was incredibly interesting. Not often a history book reads like a novel. Highly recommended


Cori
Posted 08 June 2006 at 03:16 pm

It would be so terrifying to live near that.


Beat Monkey
Posted 08 June 2006 at 03:44 pm

I thought the explosion of the island of Thera(modern day Santorini)was supposed to be much worse than this. Maybe it was just because the main city of the Minoan civilization was on it. Oh well.


Gadz
Posted 08 June 2006 at 05:16 pm

"causing sunsets so vivid that in Poughkeepsie, NY, firefighters were called to put out the apparent conflagration."

Speaking as a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie, NY, I can say that a decision ridiculous as this is not out of the norm around here. I read this and almost spewed coffee everywhere.


ballaerina
Posted 08 June 2006 at 05:42 pm

It's amazing that it actually divided those countries. I can't imagine the force and destruction that could literally rip a country into two pieces.


Wisanggeni
Posted 08 June 2006 at 07:35 pm

Cori said: "It would be so terrifying to live near that."

Not really...
I live at Jakarta, Indonesia.
I can see Anak Krakatau (It's KRAKATAU originaly, not Krakatoa!) from Anyer (famous resort at west Java) We kinda get used to it.


ballaerina
Posted 08 June 2006 at 07:40 pm

Wisanggeni - is it loud when it erupts? Is it destructive?


Wisanggeni
Posted 08 June 2006 at 08:21 pm

ballaerina said: "Wisanggeni - is it loud when it erupts? Is it destructive?"

Loud? Of course it is.
When a fisherman nearby hear the it's erupting voice, they will say something like "...please excuse us dear patriach, for disturbing your sleep. But we have things to do..."

...once I got my mouth bash into my Jet Ski panel, when a 3 meter wave sudenly swept me down when it's erupting. ...and all I do, was just surf along the coast of Anyer, which is.....well quite far away from it.
...my mouth still hurt sometimes...


k310
Posted 08 June 2006 at 08:58 pm

I used to grew up in Jakarta and go to Anyer beach resorts regularly on weekend. When I asked the locals about the legend of Krakatau's 1883 eruption, they all saying horror stories. If I recall their story, there used to be fisherman villages and small ports along the beach, and on the first day of Krakatau eruption, all are wiped out and no one survive from the blast (probably from the shock wave, not from the deadly hot gasses). The volcano not only sprew hot larva and hot gasses , but also threw hot stones and rocks the size of a small to medium house as far as 50km or more (Im just assuming the distance between the volcano to Anyer beach). I have seen those rocks, and yet there is one or two that stand as tall as 3 stores high, now they are local tourist attraction, but also display how powerfull were the blast or the exploding of Krakatau volcano , IMHO.
Recently Anak Krakatau is showing more activity, and located along west Java coast line; and in central Java Mt. Merapi is erupting right now. Hopefully Anak Krakatau stay quiet for now, if those two are erupting together, I can't imagine how destructive that can be.


Prince
Posted 08 June 2006 at 11:53 pm

What do you mean you used to grow up? Did you just stop when you were a kid or something?


}Hoplite||
Posted 09 June 2006 at 03:28 am

I think volcanoes are something of an animal like unpredictable,powerful and life changing. I'm trying to study them as a volcanologist.


Furnace
Posted 09 June 2006 at 03:45 am

When I was a kid, I read a book in school about a man that sailed a balloon around the world and ended up on Krakatoa right before the explosion. (Fictional, of course.) If anyone happens to know the title of it, I would really appreciate it. I can't find it anywhere.


JustAnotherName
Posted 09 June 2006 at 03:50 am

I don't know what I was watching but I recently saw footage of an under water erupting volcano. (I think it is near Hawaii but I am not sure.) Anyway, they say these types of volcanoes are what formed many islands. The scientists are very happy to see one erupting under water for the first time.


Cynthia Wood
Posted 09 June 2006 at 04:46 am

Furnace - That would be "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene du Bois.


Josh Harding
Posted 09 June 2006 at 05:12 am

Shandooga said: "I love french toast."

Do you like them with syrup, or a nice marmelade and whipped cream?


Josh Harding
Posted 09 June 2006 at 05:17 am

Furnace said: "When I was a kid, I read a book in school about a man that sailed a balloon around the world and ended up on Krakatoa right before the explosion. (Fictional, of course.) If anyone happens to know the title of it, I would really appreciate it. I can't find it anywhere."

Around The World In 80 Days? Something else by Jules Verne?


Xiphias
Posted 09 June 2006 at 06:59 am

I thought the ones that erupted a lot were supposed to be safe because that showed the pressure for a really big explosion wasn't building up.


HearWa
Posted 09 June 2006 at 07:12 am

I wonder if anyone boats over and walks on it? I would be SO tempted to have a picnic there, just to say I had a picnic on a volcano once.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 09 June 2006 at 07:18 am

Xiphias,
Not necessarily. It depends not on how often, but on what type of lava is being erupted. Very thick, viscous lava is dangerous no matter how often the volcano erupts because it is capable of very quickly sealing the volcano's vents and generating enormous pressures within the chamber. Usually, volcanoes with much less viscous lava are the type that frequently erupt like Hawaii's Kilauea. Those volcanoes usually erupt much less explosively than the more viscous type.


kysportsfan
Posted 09 June 2006 at 07:29 am

I saw something on the Discovery Channel about Krakatoa. I guess it is time for them to make another series about the other one.


a2dave
Posted 09 June 2006 at 08:19 am

Furnace said: "When I was a kid, I read a book in school about a man that sailed a balloon around the world and ended up on Krakatoa right before the explosion. (Fictional, of course.) If anyone happens to know the title of it, I would really appreciate it. I can't find it anywhere."

That would have been "The 21 Balloons" - a great story, my son read it a few years ago and loved it. We liked the bed that changes its own sheets.


Furnace
Posted 09 June 2006 at 09:46 pm

Cynthia Wood said: "Furnace - That would be "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene du Bois."

That's the one! Thanks to a2dave as well, and Josh, although that wasn't what I was looking for, thanks for throwing another option out there.


another viewpoint
Posted 10 June 2006 at 06:50 am

...well, if you've got to go...you might as well go out with a BANG!
...and get the biggest BANG for the BUCK!


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 10 June 2006 at 12:14 pm

Any of you guys check out the Discovery Channel piece on supervolcanoes? If this interests you it's an absolute must see. Probably better than any other segment I've watched on there. If Discovery is even still running worth while discovery material. There for awhile it was Monster Garage and Monster House and Amrican Choppers 24/7. I love motorcycles, but would have preffered to see some real discovery stuff.


pearltorto
Posted 11 June 2006 at 01:41 pm

Mount Olympus is the largest volcano ever and apparently when that was active it was....well lets just say it was one hell of a bang....but no need to worry...its extinct.....and on planet mars

ooo and there is a predicted eruption that will be the highest on the scale. you'll have about 25000 years to build your shelter


Beth
Posted 13 June 2006 at 01:42 pm

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Any of you guys check out the Discovery Channel piece on supervolcanoes? If this interests you it's an absolute must see. Probably better than any other segment I've watched on there. If Discovery is even still running worth while discovery material. There for awhile it was Monster Garage and Monster House and Amrican Choppers 24/7. I love motorcycles, but would have preffered to see some real discovery stuff."

Yes! Their supervolcanoes shows are awesome!!! I was also one of the cheese-lovers who watched their movie about Yellowstone blowing up. There was very much cheese involved, but hey -- I happen to love cheesy movies. I agree with you totally on the recent programming on the Discovery Channel, tho. I want to see more of the shows that made me a Discovery junkee.


Tink
Posted 11 October 2006 at 08:10 pm

Prince said: "What do you mean you used to grow up? Did you just stop when you were a kid or something?"

Prince, don't be a Pr*ck. It's obvious that English is not k310's first language. I think the information he/she gave to the comments was Damned Interesting too, and now sadly it looks as though you embarrassed them and that person has not posted again. And I note you have not contributed anything of interest to the conversation either.
I will admit though that this cracked me up:
k310 said:..."The volcano not only sprew hot larva and hot gasses ..." LOL.
Come back k310 and don't be shy about shareing your experiances with us.
Oh and thank you Cynthia for another DI article! :)


BigR55
Posted 08 January 2007 at 12:37 am

What happened to everyone? No new post in months! Christmas shopping and gift return time is over.

I found k310's first hand account of the current activity interesting. Someone there sould get him back on line. Can photos be posted here?


SPORK
Posted 26 March 2007 at 11:03 am

I LOVE PANCAKES WITH 2 EGGS OVER EASY.

PBS HAD A DAMN INTERESTING SHOW ON DADDY KRAK SUNDAY.


SPORK
Posted 26 March 2007 at 12:31 pm

Tink said: "Prince, don't be a Pr*ck. It's obvious that English is not k310's first language. I think the information he/she gave to the comments was Damned Interesting too, and now sadly it looks as though you embarrassed them and that person has not posted again. And I note you have not contributed anything of interest to the conversation either.

I will admit though that this cracked me up:
k310 said:…"The volcano not only sprew hot larva and hot gasses …" LOL.
Come back k310 and don't be shy about shareing your experiances with us.
Oh and thank you Cynthia for another DI article! :)"

I AGREE WITH TINK- COME BACK K310.
"PLANET EARTH" WAS REALLY AMAZING... TO MANY COMMERCIALS BUT SOOO COOL.


tarteauxpommes
Posted 13 July 2007 at 08:59 pm

I did a school report on this a few months back. My report was 10 pages long, but your article encompassed about the same amount of information in much less space and time. By far one of the best-written articles I have read on your site!


georgie_girl2410
Posted 20 May 2008 at 06:42 am

Im currently doing a school project on this topic, and this article was of much help for me-our world is very 'exciting!'
by the way- I like french toast too!


Bob
Posted 12 November 2012 at 04:41 pm

man your guys comments are in my opinion a lot more Damn Interesting then the article. i heard about this volcano about a year ago and have recently thought about this volcano and its son. I am very interested in learning more about this volcanoe and others. thank you for your comments......P.S where are all the comments im the first comment in like 3 1/2 years???


EGDP
Posted 04 November 2014 at 11:42 pm

Furnace said: "When I was a kid, I read a book in school about a man that sailed a balloon around the world and ended up on Krakatoa right before the explosion. (Fictional, of course.) If anyone happens to know the title of it, I would really appreciate it. I can't find it anywhere."

The book is called 21 Balloons


END OF COMMENTS
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