CVO Website - 1883 Eruption of Krakatau Volcano, Indonesia
USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
1883 Eruption of Krakatau
- Krakatau Volcano
- Eruptive History
- Krakatau Tsunami
- Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)
-- Modified from: Simkin and Fiske, 1983, Smithsonian
Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program's Website,
Krakatau volcano lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra.
Caldera collapse, perhaps in 416 AD, destroyed the ancestral Krakatau edifice,
forming a 7-kilometer-wide
Remnants of this volcano formed
Verlaten and Lang Islands;
subsequently Rakata, Danan and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed,
coalescing to create the
pre-1883 Krakatau Island.
Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption
destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan volcanoes, and left only a remnant of Rakata volcano.
The post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau),
constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between
the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan, has been the site of
frequent eruptions since 1927.
Newhall and Dzurisin, 1988,
Historical Unrest at Large Calderas of the World:
USGS Bulletin 1855
The Krakatau edifice grew as one or more stratovolcanoes of dominantly
hypersthene-augite andesite composition. The geology of Krakatau has been described by
Effendi and others (1985, 1986), who identified five main evolutionary periods. Period 1 was
an early growth phase that included accumulation of lavas and pyroclastics. Period 2 was
marked by caldera formation, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and partly welded tuffs
(ignimbrites). The cones of Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan grew during
the third period and were largely destroyed during the fourth period, which included the
paroxysmal eruption of August 1883. Another growth phase (period 5) began by
December 1927, when Anak Krakatau was first noticed in submarine eruption. ...
Several years of regional seismicity culminated in the
famous caldera-forming eruption of August 1883
(Verbeek, 1886; Judd, 1888). Earthquakes were felt in
west Java and eastern Sumatra 5-6 years before the 1883 eruption, and in
northern Australia in the 3 years before the eruption. On 1 September 1880, a strong
earthquake damaged the First Point lighthouse on the west end of Java (70 kilometers
south-southwest of Krakatau). more earthquakes were felt at First Point on 9-10 May 1883
and at Katimbang (40 kilometers north-northeast) during 15-20 May 1883. None of the
above-mentioned earthquakes is known to have been of volcanic origin and centered beneath
Krakatau; more likely, they reflect a buildup and release of tectonic stress in the sunda
A mild ash and steam eruption began from Perbuwatan on 20 May 1883, and similar
eruptions continued for 3 months. At times several vents were in eruption simultaneously. On
11 August, vigorous ash-laden gas columns rose from the main crater of Perbuwatan, the
former vent of Danan, and from the foot of Danan; in addition, "no fewer than
eleven other foci of eruption could be observed on the visible portions of the island, from
which smaller steam-columns issued and ejections of ash took place" (Judd, 1888, p.13). At
least some of the early ash was basaltic, suggesting that intrusion of basaltic melt into the
silicic reservoir may have played a role in initiating these eruptions (Francis and Self,
1983). The small eruptions intensified on 24 August 1883 and culminated in the famous,
climactic explosion of 27 August 1883 (Verbeek, 1886; Judd, 1888; Simkin and Fiske, 1983).
Earthquakes and rumbling, not demonstrably from Krakatau, were noted in 1898 (Koninklijk
Magnetisch en Meteorologisch Observatorium te Batavia, 1899). On 13 August 1913, a strong
tectonic earthquake occurred in the Bantam-Krakatau region, damaging the First Point
lighthouse. Fishermen where were on the islands of Krakatau reported that part of the caldera
wall collapsed. They also reported that at 1000 hours a "column of fire" rose out of the
crater, whereupon they heard a cannonlike sound and fled (Visser, 1920). There are no
independent reports of eruptions of Krakatau in 1913, and we suspect that only a landslide
Eruptions from December 1927 to 1981, mostly of basaltic andesite, built the Anak
Krakatau ("child of Krakatau") cone in the center of the 1883 caldera ...
The August 1883 eruption of Krakatau is often cited as a
classic example of caldera formation
by collapse following eruption of large volumes of pumice (Williams, 1941; Williams and
McBirney, 1979; Self and Rampino, 1981, 1982; Francis and Self, 1983). However, other workers
have suggested alternate mechanisms for formation of the Krakatau Caldera. Yokoyama (1981,
1982) concluded that the caldera formed by explosive destruction and reaming of the
preeruption edifice, and Camus and Vincent (1983) and Francis (1985) favored an origin by
large-scale collapse of the northern part of Krakatau Island (similar to the
volcanic landslide at Mount St. Helens on 18 May 1980).
Regrettable, much of the evidence is sumbmarine and inaccessible, but we are impressed by the
similarity of Krakatau and other, better-exposed calderas (for example,
that are thought to have formed by simple collapse following voluminous pumice eruptions. The
volume of magma erupted in the plinian eruption (9 cubic kilometers) is adequate to explain
the caldera without invoking a landslide origin. ...
Simkin and Siebert, 1994, Volcanoes of the World:
Smithsonian Institution, Global Volcanism Program, Geoscience Press, Inc., Arizona, Published in
association with the Smithsonian Institution, 349p.
Tsunami, or giant sea wave, generated by the historic 1883 eruption of Krakatau,
Indonesia. The largest wave, which reached heights of 40 meters (140 feet) above sealevel
and killed over 34,000 people, stranded this ship (Web Note: not pictured on our site) 2
1/2 kilometers (1 1/2 miles) inland.
Kious and Tilling, 1996, This DynamicEarth:
The Story of Plate Tectonics:
USGS General Interest Publication
are seismic sea waves caused by earthquakes,
submarine landslides, and, infrequently, by eruptions of
island volcanoes. ...
The 1883 eruption of Krakatau Volcano, located in the Sunda Straits
between the islands of Sumatra and Java,
Indonesia, provides an excellent example of an eruption-caused tsunami.
A series of tsunamis washed away 165 coastal
villages on Java and Sumatra, killing 36,000 people. The larger tsunamis
were recorded by tide gauges as far away as the
southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula-more than 7,000 kilometers
Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)
http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/News/MSH2004/VEI_information.pdf, USGS/CVO Website, 2004
Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a scale that describes the size of an explosive volcanic eruption.
VEI is analogous to the Richter magnitude scale for earthquakes. In the 0 to 8 scale of VEI, each interval represents an increase of a factor of ten. An eruption of VEI 4 is 10 times larger than a 3 and one hundred times larger than a 2. Key characteristics that define VEI include:
- Volume of ash produced
- Height of eruption cloud above the vent
- Duration of eruption
Krakatau, Indonesia, 1883
- VEI 6 (Very Large)
- Bulk Volume of Erupted Products: 4 cubic miles
Ashfall thicknesses vary greatly within a single VEI category due to differences in eruption and wind conditions. Typically a VEI 6 will produce:
- Eruption column height above vent: greater than 80,000 feet
- Approximate ash thickness at 10 miles: 10 feet
- Approximate ash thickness at 100 miles: 1 foot
- Approximate ash thickness at 300 miles: 1 inch
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12/16/04, Lyn Topinka