West of Java

by wjw on August 1, 2009

Some really gorgeous pictures of Krakatoa during its current eruption.

With an explosive force 13,000 times the power of the atomic bomb that annihilated Hiroshima, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa killed more than 36,000 people and radically altered global weather and temperatures for years afterwards.

The eruption was so violent and catastrophic that no active volcano in modern times has come close to rivalling it, not even the spectacular eruption of Mount St Helens in the U.S. in 1980. Now, almost a century-and-a-half on, are we about to experience the horrors of Krakatoa once again?

The answer, of course, is “nobody knows,” but that doesn’t stop them from spectulating in the most lurid manner possible.

Zora August 3, 2009 at 5:27 am

I just ran across this. More volcano porn.


I take an ugly, shameful satisfaction in seeing things destroyed by lava — as long as no one gets physically hurt. The worst part of the above account was the death of the fish.

Have you read John McPhee's essay on an Icelandic eruption in his book, Control of Nature? Those Icelanders DID manage to control an eruption.

Ian McDowell August 4, 2009 at 3:40 am

Where did the "Krakatoa, EAST of Java" fallacy come from? Because that phrase predates the 1969 disaster movie (with its terrifying shot of the tsunami about to engulf Brian Keith, which still gets to me even now) by many decades.

dubjay August 4, 2009 at 4:53 am

I remember that the movie was parodied by Monty Python as "Krakatoa, East of Learnington."

The movie was based on a novel (by Michael Avallone?)called "East of Java." The producers naturally wanted moviegoers to know that there was going to be a big freakin' volcano explosion, so they added "Krakatoa" to the title without realizing that the island was to Java's west.

Or so I heard at the time, thirdhand, by one of the movie's stars.

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