The beginning of the 19th century was recorded in history as “the year without summer” in Europe and North America as the average global temperature dropped as much as five degrees Fahrenheit. In some regions, like New England and Eastern Canada, snow fell in June. Cold rain and frost also occurred in the summer months in Asia. What happened?
The answer was Tambora, a stratovolcano in Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara, which exploded on April 5, 1815 in gigantic eruption marking a history climax of several decades of activity inside its magma chamber.
Thunderous sounds were heard all the way from ternate and Batavia (old name of Jakarta); both are more than one thousand kilometers away from Tambora. The next day, volcanic ash rained on the eastern plain of Java, accompanied by a series of detonations. But no one knew that there was still much more to come.
On April 10, 1815, three columns of fire skyrocketed, followed by a massive and continuous ejection of 50 cubic kilometers of magma. The powerful roars kept thundering and a large part of the mountain collapsed into a flood of “liquid fire”. It left a deep summit crater, and the mountain’s height was cut from 4,300 meters to only 2,851 meters.
The result of the outburst was disastrous. Pyroclastic clouds spewed into the sky over 19 kilometers high and giant tsunamis struck several islands. Large amounts of volcanic as enveloped the globe causing a climate anomaly all over the world for a whole year. Crops failed and death by famine and diseases ensued. Casualties reached 71,000 in Indonesia alone. It was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, prompting Tambora to be dubbed the Pompeii of the East.
Text: Ninus Andarnuswari
Source: Journey Indonesia Magazine
Continue reading: A Journey to Tambora
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