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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Most Violent Volcano Ready for Eruption?

November 24, 2010

Krakatau: Is the Most Violent Volcano in History Ready for Its Next Big Eruption? (Environment Alert)


"In AD 535/536 mankind was hit by one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur ….  It blotted out much of the light and heat of the sun for 18 months and resulted, directly or indirectly in climatic chaos, famine, migration, war and massive political change on virtually every continent."

David Keys in the opening page of Catastrophe.

The Anak Krakatau volcano is producing hundreds of eruptions every day lately. Scientists around the world are wondering: is it preparing for it's third big blast in human history? Historians have found indications that an eruption of Krakatau may have helped put an end to the Roman Empire. In 535 AD a violent eruption of Krakota may have been responsible for the global climate changes. The best known eruption culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern and recorded history -equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT or 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little Boy bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomba (50 Mt), the largest nuclear device ever detonated.the last big bang was produced during the eruption of 1883.

Scientists stress, however, that Anak Krakatau won't 'go nuclear' until it completes it's dome building phase which could take years, even decades.


The thick brown plume of ash, steam and volcanic gas rising from Anak Krakatau in this true-color image above is a common sight at the volcano. Responsible for one of the largest and most destructive eruptions in Indonesia's history, Krakatau still erupts frequently. For this reason, the volcano is one of 100 that NASA automatically monitors with the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2010, Krakatau erupted hundreds of times a day, but by November 17, when the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite took this image, activity at the volcano had started to slow. The image was taken as part of Volcano SensorWeb, a program that automatically schedules the ALI and Hyperion sensors on EO-1 to image volcanoes when other satellites detect signs of activity. ALI provides a detailed, photo-like view useful for tracking ash, while Hyperion records the temperature and position of lava flows.


Jason McManus via  NASA's earth observatory 


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