USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
Tambora Volcano, Indonesia
- Tambora Volcano and the 1815 Eruption
- Year Without a Summer
Tambora Volcano and the 1815 Eruption
Newhall and Daniel Dzurisin, 1988,
Historical Unrest at Large Calderas of the World:
U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1855
Tambora is on Sumbawa Island along the east Sunda Arc. It lies some
300 kilometers behind the Sunda Trench, but the subduction zone in that area
has a shallow dip and is less than 200 kilometers deep beneath Tambora (Alzwar
and others, 1981).
Tambora is a large
composed dominantly of nepheline-normative, leucite-bearing trachybasalt and
trachyandesite (Petroeschevsky, 1949; Foden and Varne, 1980; Alzwar and
others, 1981; Barberi and others, 1983; Self and others, 1984; Foden, 1986).
Before its eruption in 1815, Tambora might have been in repose for as much as
5,000 years (Barberi and others, 1983).
At least 6 months and probably about 3 years of increased steaming and small
phreatic eruptions preceded the 1815 Tambora eruption, the largest in
historical time (Stewart, 1820; Zollinger, 1855; Crawfurd, 1856; Stothers,
1984; Sigurdsson and Carey, 1987). A moderately large explosive eruption
occurred on 5 April 1815, from which ash fell in east Java and thunderlike
sounds were heard up to 1,400 kilometers away. A still larger eruption
occurred on 10-11 April, beginning as "three columns of fire rising to a great
height" (Zollinger, 1855, p.19) and ultimately ejecting about 50 cubic
kilometers of magma (dense rock equivalent) (Self and others, 1984; Sigurdsson
and Carey, 1987). the eruption left a deep summit
where previously a much higher stratovolcano had stood. Earthquakes were felt
as far away as Surabaya (500 kilometers), possibly reflecting the caldera
A small, postcaldera cone and lava flow, Doro Afi Toi, originated
sometime between 1847 and 1913 (Pannekoek van Rheden, 1918; Neumann van
Padang, 1951). A strong earthquake on 13 January 1909, with an epicenter near
Tambora (8.5degreesS, 117.4degreesE), was "presumably connected with
Tambora" (Koninklijk Magnetisch en Meteorologisch Observatorium te
Batavia, 1911). Might the earthquake have occurred during formation of
Doro Afi Toi?
Kious and Tilling, 1996,
This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics:
USGS General Interest Publication
The June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was global.
Slightly cooler than usual temperatures
recorded worldwide and the brilliant sunsets and
sunrises have been attributed to this eruption
that sent fine ash and
gases high into the stratosphere, forming a large
volcanic cloud that drifted around the world. The sulfur dioxide (SO2)
in this cloud -- about 22 million tons -- combined
with water to form droplets of sulfuric acid, blocking some of the
sunlight from reaching the Earth and thereby cooling
temperatures in some regions by as much as 0.5 degrees °C. An eruption the
size of Mount Pinatubo could affect the weather for
a few years.
A similar phenomenon occurred in April of 1815
with the cataclysmic eruption of
Tambora Volcano in Indonesia,
the most powerful eruption in recorded history.
Tambora's volcanic cloud lowered global temperatures by as
much as 3 degrees °C. Even a year after the eruption, most of the
northern hemisphere experienced sharply cooler temperatures
during the summer months. In parts of Europe and in North America,
1816 was known as
"the year without a summer."
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02/06/03, Lyn Topinka