26.08.

1883: Most Powerful Explosion in Human History

1883: Most Powerful Explosion in Human History
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ "Indonesia, Sunda Straits" by flydime - Krakatau (Krakatoa, Krakatao) / Indonesia, Sunda Straits. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 26 August 1883
  • The explosion of Krakatoa was so loud that it could be heard at a distance of 3,500 kilometers. It is estimated that it had a force equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT. The volcanic ash released into the atmosphere caused global cooling over the next few years.

On this day the most powerful explosion ever recorded in human history occurred.

Interestingly, it was caused neither by the detonation of a nuclear bomb nor by a meteor strike. The most powerful explosion in history was of completely natural, terrestrial origin – a volcano eruption at Krakatoa, Indonesia.

It is estimated that the explosion had a force equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT. In comparison, the most powerful thermonuclear bomb ever detonated, the Soviet Tsar Bomba, was only equivalent to 50 megatons. Thus, the volcano eruption of Krakatoa was four times more powerful than the most powerful bomb ever detonated, and twice as powerful as the most powerful weapon ever designed by man (the Soviets had plans for bombs of up to 100-megatons).

The explosion of Krakatoa was so loud that it could be heard at a distance of 3,500 kilometers. It was heard throughout Australia and the Indian Ocean, where people thought they had heard the sound of naval gunfire. A wave of increased atmospheric pressure was recorded across the globe, the result of the concussive air waves caused by the explosion. The volcanic ash released into the atmosphere caused global cooling over the next few years.

The explosion and eruption of Krakatoa caused the death of over 36,000 people. The entire island was literally blown apart, so that only a ring of smaller islands remained (see photo).

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