Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Karatoa's Revenge: Mega-Disaster, History Channel

Tonight Dec. 18 2007 the History Channel film in the Mega-Disasters series is "Kratatoa's Revenge". It describes and simulates the series of eruptions at Karatoa, where Java and Sumatra meet in Indonesia, in 1883. The eruption was the loudest in decibels in modern history, and 36000 people died. There was a super-eruption in 535 AD and possibly 416 AD. The 535 eruption caused massive climate change and a brief in temperature and crop failures for several years.

The mountain was destroyed, but an island over the caldera location called Anak Karkatau ("Child of Krakatoa") exists and the program offers speculation as to what would happen if there were a super eruption there now. The sky could turn black for months even over the U.S. and Europe, with widespread famine. The risks seems comparable to what could happen if the Yellowstone caldera in the United States were to erupt. The fact that Krakatoa is close to the equator makes the dust cloud issue worse.

There was a film in the 1960s, "Kratatoa: East of Java," directed by Bernard Kowalski (Cinerama Releasing Corporation).

The January 2008 issue of National Geographic has the cover story "Indonesia's Ring of Fire: Volcano Gods," story by Andrew Marshall with photographs by John Stanmeyer. "Geography has dealt Indonesia a wild card: Nowhere else do so many live so close to so many active volcanoes." There is a related story about a catastrophic mud flow in East Java in May 2006.

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