Monday, December 4, 2006

Painting's red sky linked to volcano's fumes

The blood-red sky that appears to frighten the tormented figure in Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" was probably caused by the faraway eruption of the volcano Krakatoa, a team of researchers has concluded after analyzing the background location, the artist's journals and reports of "Krakatoa twilights."

The team from Texas State University traveled to Oslo, and found the location of the painting's background. They also concluded that Munch would have been facing in the direction of a cloudscape that had been reddened by the explosion of the volcano. The massive eruption, in what is now Indonesia, occurred in 1883 and sent dust and gases high into the atmosphere, causing twilights to glow red around the world. The team found that Oslo newspapers reported the red sky was very visible at the time.

The work was painted in 1893, a decade after the eruption. That delay was one reason earlier researchers did not make the connection with the volcano. But the Texas team found journal entries by Munch alluding to the remarkably red sky he once saw in Oslo, when he "felt a great, unending scream piercing through nature." The research was reported in Sky & Telescope magazine.

Copyright 2003 Journal Sentinel Inc. Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

Washington Post
Sunday, December 21, 2003

World's deadliest volcano draws adventure-seekers

Anak Krakatau, Indonesia -- In an ancient cycle of death and rebirth, the offspring of a legendary volcano is growing at the spot where its parent was destroyed in the most cataclysmic natural event in recorded history -- and becoming a magnet for adventure tourists from around the world.

The volcanic eruption on Aug. 27, 1883, that blew apart the island of Krakatau in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra produced modern history's most powerful explosion -- 30 times stronger than the largest thermonuclear bomb.

The blast was heard in Australia and Burma, thousands of miles from Krakatau, which is also known as Krakatoa. The ash and rock blasted into the air circled the globe for a year, and the Earth's weather patterns were disrupted for several years.

A 130-foot-tall tsunami inundated some 100 villages on both sides of the busy waterway, killing an estimated 37,000 people. Until recently, the rusting hulk of a Dutch warship could be seen 2 1/2 miles inland on a hillside where the wave deposited it.

For decades, all that marked the site of the original 2,640-foot- high island was a tiny islet, renamed Rakata, that had survived the explosion.

But in 1930, a new volcano -- Anak Krakatau, or the Child of Krakatau -- broke through the water at the center of the old volcano, where the tectonic forces that led to the 1883 eruption are pushing magma upward at an astounding pace.

The Child of Krakatau is now growing five yards a year, says Mas Aceh of the Indonesia's Directorate of Volcanology and Geology. It has already reached a height of nearly 1,320 feet.

"This must be one of the most dramatic spots on Earth, with all the most powerful forces in nature beneath our feet," said Heinz Phelps, a visitor from Munster, Germany.

He and two friends were climbing from the tropical forest that has reclaimed the narrow coastal plain on Anak's northern side, up through the black basalt foothills to the volcano's cinder rim.

During active periods, Anak Krakatau erupts 20 to 30 times a day, sending up sulfurous smoke and raining ash and molten rocks down the hillsides into the sea. At such times, the entire island, now a national park, is closed to tourists.

Danger and drama

Even when it is dormant, the difficult hike up the steamy, sun- scorched slope to the crater is discouraged by local guides, since an American tourist was killed and five injured by a 1993 eruption.

But fascinated travelers continue to come, drawn by the history, drama and danger.

"There's something very sinister about this place," said William Redgrave, an Australian tourist. "A sunny tropical paradise with green islands surrounded by aquamarine waters, all sitting atop a giant time bomb."

Most Indonesians prefer to watch the pyrotechnics from one of the hotels that line the beaches around the port town of Anyer on the western tip of Java.

It is easy to hire a boat from there for the 18-mile ride across the turbulent waters to the three-island archipelago encircling Anak Krakatau.

Other sights to see

Two other popular jumping-off spots are Carita Beach and Tanjung Lesung, both just south of Anyer.

Tanjung Lesung is an attractive option for travelers with a bit more time to spend exploring. It is close to the 297,880-acre Ujung Kulon National Park, which is home to the one-horned Javan rhinoceros, one of the rarest animals on Earth.

The Sunda Strait sits just north of the Java trench, a geologically volatile zone where the Australian oceanic plate is moving northward and plunging beneath the Asian continent, creating the network of volcanoes that gave birth to many of the islands in the vast Indonesian archipelago.

Geologists predict Anak will continue growing for several centuries and eventually be vaporized in another colossal eruption similar to the one in 1883.

Copyright 2004 Journal Sentinel Inc. Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

by : SLOBODAN LEKIC Associated Press
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The biggest bang in the world

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KRAKATOA: THE DAY THE WORLD EXPLODED, AUGUST 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester Viking, L16.99, pp. 408, ISBN 0066212855

How irritating, I thought after completing this splendid volume, that I never took Simon Winchester up on his suggestion of a hike up Mayon Volcano in the Philippines several years ago. It would have been a lot of fun, and Winchester would - when he was not regaling me with stories of his latest amorous conquests - have made an erudite and entertaining guide. By inclination a lounge-lizard Lothario, he is by academic training a geologist.

In earlier years, and to lesser effect, he was a travel writer. An inveterate raconteur, he likes telling his audiences how one of his books was a terrific flop. It sold 13 copies. These days, his books do rather better (The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map that Changed the World were both bestsellers), evidence that he has struck a more profitable vein and matured as a writer. With the unfertile shores of travel literature behind him he has returned to his geological roots and the reader is all the better for it.

Krakatoa tells the story of the world's most superlative volcano. Long known as 'the island with a pointed mountain' in what was then the Dutch East Indies, today western Indonesia, its eruption at two minutes past ten on the morning of 27 August 1883 was the planet's most devastating seismic experience. It was the greatest explosion ever, and the loudest, its thunderous roar audible a whopping 2,968 miles away, the equivalent of a resident of Philadelphia hearing a blast in San Francisco. It was also the world's worst natural disaster. Towering tsunamis fanned out across the globe, swamping 165 East Indian villages and sweeping a woman to death in Ceylon, almost 2,000 miles away. The shock wave emanating from the volcano was so vast it circumnavigated the world seven times. Six cubic miles of rock, ash and dust were hurled into the atmosphere. The cloud of gas, fire and smoke is thought to have risen 24 miles into the air. Krakatoa killed 36,417 people.

Having chosen this dramatic canvas, Winchester reaches for his boldest colours to paint his picture. We take a tour through the colonial history of the East Indies: pepper cultivation; rivalry between the Portuguese and Dutch; settlement and pre-eruption decadence in Batavia; rising tensions between coloniser and colonised. It is lively, pacy stuff, interspersed with a riveting history of geology's halting progress towards understanding the mysteries of volcanoes. Winchester is to be commended for making subduction zones, sea-floor spreading, tectonics and fault-zones appealing to the lay reader. These are some of the best passages in the book.

In particular, he makes a powerful case for the proper recognition of Alfred Russel Wallace, the man who understood before Darwin the science of evolution, but failed to put pen to paper in time to reap the credit. 'He remained loyal, almost servile,' Winchester writes, 'the ever revolving little moon around Darwin's glittering and far grander planet.' Thus it was that Darwinism and 'survival of the fittest' entered the English lexicon while Wallace languished in relative anonymity.

When you are describing the world's most famous volcanic explosion, the temptation must be to reach for the thesaurus now and then and Winchester sometimes lays it on a bit. Amid the lava flows adjectives come tumbling thick and fast, invariably accompanied by an adverb. After 100 of these couplets I stopped counting, but my favourites were: 'amiably syncretic'; 'stutteringly prolix'; 'formidably spectacular'; 'placidly unexciting'; 'temptingly plausible'; 'seductively sinuous'; 'lethally massive'. His agent is 'robustly splendid', his publisher 'deservedly legendary'. Adverbially excessive, you could say.

After his last two volumes, Winchester knows which side his bread is buttered and the travel writing is limited to a few pages at the end. A suitably modest (the style is catching) author makes the pilgrimage to what remains of the island of Krakatoa and after clambering to the top and having an unexpected encounter with a six-foot monitor lizard beats a retreat.

We learn a great deal in the course of this book and Winchester, storyteller to the core, wears his erudition lightly. Perhaps, above all, we understand the fragility of man's existence on this planet. 'Krakatoa is a stark reminder of the truth of Will Durant's famous aphorism: "Civilisation exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice"'.

I only hope one day he invites me on another volcanic jaunt.

Copyright Spectator Jun 7, 2003
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

by Marozzi, Justin

Krakatoa served notice of human's vulnerability

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WASHINGTON -- Ira Gershwin didn't know the half of it. He said the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble. But terra firma itself is far from firm.

Even the continents are wandering, half an inch to four inches a year. The Earth is a work in violent progress. The engine of its evolution is heat -- boiling gas, molten rock and other stuff -- left over from the planet's formation 4.5 billion years ago. The heat frequently bursts through Earth's crust, although rarely as catastrophically as it did 120 years ago on the island of Krakatoa.

If Simon Winchester is correct in his new book -- "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883" -- the current trial in Indonesia of accused perpetrators of last year's terrorist bombing in Bali may be part of the lingering reverberation of the volcanic eruption -- the loudest sound in modern human experience, heard 3,000 miles away -- that made an island disappear.

Billions of tons of material -- six cubic miles of it -- were hurled 120,000 to 160,000 feet in the air. They filtered sunlight, lowering the Earth's temperature and creating spectacular sunsets that for months inspired painters and poets.

And in the East Indies outpost of the Dutch empire, where a notably relaxed and tolerant Islamic faith had long flourished, Krakatoa, by terrifying and dispossessing people, may have catalyzed the much fiercer form of Islam that fused with anticolonialism. It is alive and dealing death today.

Although the people of the East Indies will be forgiven for not appreciating this at the time, Winchester says volcanoes are part of what makes this planet hospitable to humans. They do not erupt so promiscuously as to render the planet unfit for life. And by churning the Earth's mantle, they bring fertile soil and useful minerals to the surface, thereby sustaining the outer earth and the biosphere. For a while.

As Earth heads for frigid lifelessness, the leakage of heat from the Earth's interior causes currents of matter to flow -- movements measured in millimeters a year -- above the molten core and below the crust.

Science in the 1960s at least explained what had long pricked curiosity -- the matching concavity of Africa's west coast and the convexity of South America's east coast. According to the study of plate tectonics, there are, depending on how they are defined, between six and 36 rigid plates on the Earth's surface. In "subduction zones," where one plate slips beneath another, the descending plate pulls down untold billions of tons of material and water. This fuels white-hot seas of soup in immense chambers, from which energy seeks to break through the Earth's surface.

Which is what happened in 1883 in the archipelago that now is Indonesia. Krakatoa's eruption resulted in the destruction of 165 villages and the death of 36,417 people. Most died not from the searing ash, pumice and gas but from giant sea waves produced by the Earth's spasm.

The shock wave circled the Earth seven recordable times. Sea surges were detectable in the English Channel. Three months after the eruption, firemen in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., scrambled in search of what they thought was an immense conflagration that caused the sky to glow. Actually, the glow was light refracted by Krakatoa's debris.

The first major catastrophe to occur after the invention of the telegraph and undersea cables, Krakatoa produced an intimation of the "global village" 77 years before Marshall McLuhan coined that phrase to describe the world-contracting effect of television. Krakatoa was, Winchester argues, "the event that presaged all the debates that continue to this day: about global warming, greenhouse gases, acid rain, ecological interdependence." Suddenly the world seemed to be less a collection of isolated individuals and events and more "interconnected individuals and perpetually intersecting events."

As an epigraph for his book, Winchester chose this from a W.H. Auden poem written in 1944, when the world was in agony and, unbeknownst to Auden, potentially world-shattering knowledge was being acquired at Los Alamos, N.M.:

At any given instant

All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,

And facts have no endurance --

And who knows if it is by design or pure inadvertence

That the Present destroys its inherited self-importance?

Geology has joined biology in lowering mankind's self-esteem. Geology suggests how mankind's existence is contingent on the geological consent of the planet. Although the planet is hospitable for the moment, it is indifferent -- eventually it will be lethally indifferent -- to its human passengers.

Washington Post Writers Group

Copyright C 2003 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

by : George F. Will


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THE Christmas tsunami made the world shake, the United States roll up its sleeves, and the mind falter. The tidal wave produced by the Krakatoa eruption over a century ago was probably greater. But the population of the world has grown, especially in the tropical and sub-tropical belt that is most susceptible to volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and typhoons. Better warnings, stronger buildings, and improved emergency response will save tens of thousands of lives. But until science advances unimaginably, millions will continue to live at risk.

Early in the aftermath of the debacle, Jan Egeland, a United Nations bureaucrat, said that America's response had been "stingy." His comment was demolished like an empty fishing boat. Forty-five percent of Americans gave some individual contribution; their private donations alone totaled $1 billion. U.S. government aid came via carrier group with an efficiency that no other country, or international organization, could match. The presence of American soldier-Samaritans in sharia-ruled Sumatra offers one more lesson in the American character, and in American competence. Theft and waste will take their cuts; terrorists, one hopes, will fail to take their cuts through bogus charities. But all that can be done will be. That, generally speaking, seems to be America's job in the world order.

A word about President Bush, not to lecture him (his character is fixed), but to instruct future presidents. His initial estimate of what America might spend was ludicrously short. Bill Clinton might also have guessed wrong, but he would have shed a sympathetic tear. Our opinion of Mr. Clinton is well known. Still, it is a fact that the quick and emotional reaction has become part of the job description of the presidency. Bush's shortcomings in this area are related to different virtues he possesses--prudence, seriousness, a robust BS detector. They are still shortcomings.

But perhaps the president can be excused for reticence when religion does not know what to say. Evil is with us every day, in every illness and crime, and in our hearts; disasters gather it in one place. In Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams's meditation on the Middle Ages, he lists the anomalies that theologians like Saint Thomas Aquinas must somehow fit into God's plan. "[S]uffering, sorrow and death; plague, pestilence and famine; inundations, droughts and frosts; catastrophes worldwide and accidents in corners; cruelty, perversity, stupidity, uncertainty, insanity; virtue begetting vice; vice working for good; happiness without sense, selfishness without gain, misery without cause, and horrors undefined." Adams, who had lost a sister in a carriage accident and a wife to suicide, and who had lived through the Civil War, had seen suffering in every shape, and though he honored Aquinas, he accepted no easy answers.

God's answer to Job is that He made the Pleiades. Creation is better than the void; something is better than nothing. Jesus' answer, from the Cross, is that, whatever you suffer, I am there. Though answers, these are not explanations. All we can do is clean up the mess and try to do better. Believers among us will add their prayers.

COPYRIGHT 2005 National Review, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Krakatoa stifled sea level rise for decades

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Ocean cooling caused by the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 kept sea level worldwide in check well into the 20th century, a new analysis suggests.

When the Indonesian volcano exploded, it hurled immense amounts of ash and other particles into the stratosphere. For up to 2 years, those aerosols blocked about 1 percent of the sunlight that had previously reached Earth, says Peter J. Gleckler, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Laboratory. The resulting decrease in absorbed radiation caused the upper layers of the oceans to cool and contract. Worldwide, sea level dropped.

Gleckler and his colleagues used modern oceanographic data to confirm the accuracy of six computer models that consider the effects of volcanic aerosols and other factors on Earth's oceans. On average, those models suggest that, between 1955 and 1998, sea level rose about 1.7 centimeters because of the warming of ocean waters, the researchers note in the Feb. 9 Nature.

Applying those models to look farther back in time, the team detected a drop in sea level after the eruption of Krakatoa. In fact, even though the oceans were gradually warming because of changes in Earth's climate, sea level wouldn't have returned to its pre-Krakatoa height until around 1950, says Gleckler.

Thanks to rapidly rising concentrations of greenhouse gases, the heat content of Earth's oceans is increasing much faster today than it did early in the 20th century. The models suggest that the drop in sea level caused by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which lofted a comparable amount of aerosols as Krakatoa did, lasted only a decade or so.--S.P.

COPYRIGHT 2006 Science Service, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded August 27, 1883 - book review

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More than 40,000 people perished as a result of the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Java nearly 125 years ago. Most of these people were killed as a result of the giant tsunamis it triggered. The blast was so intense that people felt it thousands of miles away. Pumice from Krakatoa floated as far as the coast of Africa.

The volcano itself exploded into oblivion. Many people in the area believed that the world was coming to an end. However, once the dust settled, scientists began to see Krakatoa as an opportunity for gleaning insight into both the beginnings of life on what was suddenly a barren landscape and the effects of subsurface Earth movements. Just as compelling is the significance of this event as the first global news story.

Via new, state-of-the-art underwater telegraph cables, news of the eruption traveled the globe in a matter of hours. Winchester deftly blends all these elements into a stirring account. He examines the event's long-lasting repercussions for both the people and wildlife of Java and reports on his recent visit there to witness a new mountain rising on the volcano's site at a rate of 20 feet in height and 40 feet in width per year. HarpC, 2003, 416 p., b&w photos/illus., hardcover, $25.95.

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded August 27, 1883 - book review

Super Volcano! History's Greatest Secret!

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"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".

This is in the opening page of "Catastrophe" by David Keys, 1999, a book that should have been on the best seller lists but very few people know of. The book took four years to write and research, and is extremely well researched. One can only assume that the Powers that Be are happy to keep this knowledge from the public. This article is an attempt to summarize that book and discuss some of the implications.

The contemporary Roman historian Procopius described the mystery climatic disaster: "The sun gave forth its light without brightness like the moon during this whole year."

Sixth century historian and prominent church leader John of Ephesus wrote of 535 AD in his 'Historiae Ecclesiasicae' ('Church Histories'), "There was a sign from the sun, the like of which had never been seen and reported before. The sun became dark and its darkness lasted for 18 months. Each day, it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow. Everyone declared that the sun would never recover its full light again."

Another 6th Century writer Zacharias of Mytilene wrote, "The sun began to be darkened by day and the moon by night."

A Roman official known as John the Lydian reported that "the sun became dim for nearly the whole year."

In Italy a Senior local civil servant, Cassiodorus Sentaro wrote in 536, "We marvel to see no shadows of ourselves at noon....We have had a spring without mildness and a summer without heat."

According to Keys, this one global disaster directly or indirectly caused the deaths of a huge percentage of the world's population. It indirectly affected the politics on every continent and contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. The 100-year period after it occurred is the heart of history's so-called Dark Ages."

In 536 the Japanese Great King Senka wrote, "Yellow gold and ten thousand strings of cash cannot cure hunger. What avails a thousand boxes of pearls to him who is starving of cold?"

Here is some more evidence from the book that there was a major global disaster in 535 AD.

"In the late 1960s an American tree-ring specialist, Valmore La Marche of the University of Arizona, collected a substantial number of high-altitude bristlecone-pine tree-ring samples from Campito Mountain in California. They showed a reduction in tree-ring width (i.e. tree growth), suggesting climatic deterioration, from 535/536 with a much more serious deterioration in 539. Growth did not then return to normality until the late 550s."

"In the 1980s, another American academic, Louis Scuderi of the University of Boston, collected a large number of foxtail-pine tree-ring samples from California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and these told a similar story, although the foxtail-pine data suggested that the period of climatic deterioration lasted even longer ... almost 40 years".

(Note: He does mention that low-altitude tree-ring evidence from New Mexico and Arizona shows no evidence of climatic problems in the years following 535).

"In Yucatan (south-east Mexico) ... painstaking analysis of lake deposits over recent years has revealed evidence of a severe multi-decade (20 to 50 years) drought which seems to have started in the mid sixth century.... The research carried out by scientists from the University of Florida and published in 1996 revealed that the sixth century drought was the first such event for almost 1,000 years and was not repeated for another three centuries."

"Tree-ring evidence from Scandinavia and western Europe also reveals a huge reduction in tree growth in the years 536-542, not recovering fully until the 550s."

"Tree-ring evidence from the British Isles shows that tree growth slowed down significantly in 535-536 and did not fully recover until 555".

"In South America, tree-ring data obtained from ancient Fitzroya conifer timbers have revealed that a dramatic cooling of temperature took place in AD 540... 540 was the coldest summer for the past 1,600 years."

"Continuous tree-ring chronologies, going back to the 6th century AD and beyond, exist for Finland, Sweden, the British Isles, central Europe, the Aegean, Siberia, North America, Chile, Argentina and Tasmania. In a substantial percentage ... the period 535 - 550 stands out as a time of unusually low tree-ring growth. In several key chronologies, that 25-35 year period contains many of the narrowest ring sequences known for the past 2,000 years.... From 538 or, in many places, 540, there was an almost universal massive decline lasting between two and eight years...This was particularly marked in the Southern Hemisphere."

(This next study is especially interesting because it suggests that the US government has been aware of the 535 disaster for some time and were prepared to spend a lot of money to study it): "Back in 1983 a team of US scientists from Ohio State University's Institute of Polar Studies climbed onto Peru's 18,711-foot-high Quelccaya Glacier and succeeded in extracting two roughly 530-foot-long, 3.25" diameter ice-cores... Refrigeration equipment could not be flown in... (The ice-cores) had to be broken up into 6,000 2" long samples, each of which was packed in its own individual container and allowed to melt.

The Ohio team then had to carry the 6,000 samples down from the glacier using mountaineering ropes and crampons... The material finally arrived in Ohio...The analysis revealed several episodes of dust storms, almost certainly caused by drought. By far the most intense and long-lasting episode, and the one that started most abruptly, was a period of drought which appears to have struck in the mid sixth century and to have lasted around 30 years."

"In analysis by Columbian archaeologists Clemencia Plazas and Anna Falcheti revealed that the mid to late sixth century was the driest period in ... 3,300 years. From 100 BC to AD 1,000 the climate was almost uniformly wet - except for the mid to late sixth century."

"A recent total reassessment of the evidence has now led archaeologists to redate the collapse of the great Mexican city of Teotihuacan to the Sixth Century A.D....An American anthropologist, Rebecca Storey of the University of Houston, has analyzed data from more than 150 skeletons ... Her findings reveal that in the years prior to the collapse, 68.3% of the working class population were dying before the age of 25, compared to 38.6% in more normal times."

He argues persuasively that it was this climatic disaster that indirectly caused the many plagues at that time, including the 'Great Death'. Normally mice in wild areas in East Africa carry fleas which carry the plague harmlessly among wild animals. Keys believes that unnatural weather following the 535 incident, especially an excessive drought followed by excessive-rainfall, caused the spread of these rodents to other areas. Eventually the rodents met and passed the flea onto the black rat which normally did not have plague. The black rat in turn passed it onto humans. The plague reached Egypt in 1941. Trade in ivory by ships from Egypt to Europe carried the plague with it, killing whole cities. Up to 1/3 of the Roman Empire died horribly in the first massive outbreak of plague. People would get a sore on their body and be dead within 2 or 3 days. More died in subsequent outbreaks. Extrapolating from death rates of the much better recorded plague in the 14th Century, in Britain possibly somewhere between 60% and 90% died of plague, both peasants and members of the elite.

The 535 event was associated with some kind of dust / chemical pollution. In 541 the 13th Century British historian Roger of Wendover wrote, "There dropped real blood from the clouds, and a dreadful mortality ensued."

"In China in 536 there was drought and famine and "yellow dust rained like snow... The crops were ruined the following year by snow in August.""

"Starting in the 530s, a horrific 32-year long drought devastated parts of South America."

The global catastrophe caused drought and flooding. Climactic extremes continued for roughly 30 years after the event.

"An analysis of British weather between 480 and 650 confirms that the period 535-555 was abnormally unstable."

What caused the global cataclysm?

Keys says that the disaster must have been caused by an asteroid impact of about 2.5 miles wide, a comet impact or a volcanic eruption. He gives a number of reasons why it was not an asteroid or comet. For example, the last time we got hit by a cosmic object of this size was 52 million years ago. Comets are also very rare. Both would have created at least a 25 mile wide crater or have produced such a tidal wave that would have rivaled Noah's flood. We do not know of either of these things happening so recently. Most importantly, neither would have produced enough dust to have darkened the sun for so long.

The most likely culprit is a super volcano, because in order to dim the sun, tons and tons of dust had to be thrown into the sky. A super volcano can do this by forcing huge quantities of sulphur into the stratosphere, which become sulphuric-acid aerosols, capable of staying aloft and directly changing the weather for several years.

Here is more evidence that the Powers That Be know all about this and how important it is:

"In 1978, a joint Danish/Swiss/US Scientific team landed on the south-Greenland ice cap in several large freight aircraft specially fitted with giant skis. The planes - US military C130 Hercules - carried massive quantities of equipment, including generators, refrigeration units, prefabricated living quarters - and a huge drill.

This later piece of hardware was used to extract - in 6.5 foot lengths - some 1.25 miles of ice-core! In temperatures of between around 14 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit, engineers and scientist from Copenhagen University worked in three shifts, 24 hours a day, drilling deeper and deeper into the ice cap at roughly 400 feet per week.

Then, early in the second year of the operation ... the team extracted some lengths of core covering the second quarter of the sixth century AD. ... Chemical analysis of this ... ice revealed that there had been two substantial volcanic eruptions. These same eruptions were then detected in a second core drilled in summer 1990 in central Greenland.

... The dating of ice-cores is at that time depth is only roughly accurate.... For eruption (number) one the core gave an apparent date of 527... while the (other) core ... yielded an apparent date of 530.

The volcanic explosion must have been very substantial, as evidence ... shows that acid-rich snow was falling at the (first) site... in Greenland for more than two years and at the (other) site for at least a year.

The final clinching evidence, however, comes from 10,000 miles to the south - from deep inside the Antarctic ice cap. ... Scientists, again using ice-cores, discovered evidence of a truly massive volcanic eruption. The ice-core material revealed that acid snow had cascaded down on the Antarctic for at least four years running....(This) occurred sometime between 490 and 540."

It is very possible that both Greenland and Antarctica events were the same event.

So, then the next question is, which volcano was the culprit?

After putting a lot of different facts together, Keys pinpoints the culprit as "Krakatoa, the notorious island mountain which brought death and destruction to Java and Sumatra in the 1880s. Could a former bigger eruption of Krakatoa have been responsible for the catastrophe that tormented the world in the mid sixth century AD?...

Buried deep in a little-known and normally ignored Indonesian chronicle is an extraordinary passage ... describing a huge volcanic event in the Sunda Straits area... where Krakatoa is located...The earliest surviving manuscript of this chronicle dates form 1869...

"There was a furious shaking of the earth, total darkness, thunder and lightning... Then came a furious gale together with torrential rain and a deadly storm darkened the entire world."

The chronicle - known as the "Pustaka Raja Purwa ('The book of Ancient Kings') ... claims that the eruption was so massive that .... "After the water subsided the mountain (which had burst into pieces) and the surrounding land became sea and the (single) island (of Java/Sumatra) divided into two parts. This (event) was the origin of the separation of Sumatra and Java." "

"One key piece of evidence (that this is a true record) is that volcanologists who have read the eruption account in the 1869 manuscript of "The book Of Ancient Kings" say that it is a very good description of the type which almost certainly did occur in the Sunda Straits.... They believe that neither western scientists nor Javanese scholars in the 1850s or 1860s would have had the geological data to reconstruct the probable sequence of events and geography."

The rest of this article is available to be copied at

Copyright © Michael Relfe 2006

Permission is granted to copy and distribute this article or parts of this article, so long as you link to or

by Michael Relfe

Michael Relfe holds a degree in Computer Science and is a graduate of United States Naval Nuclear Power School. His 25 year career as a software engineer gives him a unique perspective in technical and scientific research. He is the Producer and Director of "Interview with an Ex-Vampire: A True Story" (Cannes 2006) at

Technology and Coping with Disaster

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Natural disasters come in many shapes. From the incomprehensible carnage of last weekend's tsunami in the Indian Ocean, to hurricanes and typhoons, to tornadoes and drought, our world deals with the horror of disaster as a normal part of our lives. Throw in a bit of human influence through wars, terrorism, or the threat of weapons of mass destruction, and our need to deal with and overcome calamity almost becomes routine.

Watching CNN and the news channels gives a near real-time view of disasters. While some may find this a bit macabre, it also shows our ability to quickly respond to major events, on a global scale. The same technologies that allow us to view the aftermath of a tsunami also allow us to quickly gather factual data on the extent of a disaster, and use that for disaster planning and response.

Organizations such as the Pacific Disaster Center (, the Asia Pacific Area Network (, try to assist regional nations to build better disaster planning models and response model through training and timely dissemination of critical information. Regional military organizations participate with each other on joint disaster planning (for other than wartime-related disaster) to organize their resources in response to a regional disaster, and can respond within hours to major problems.

While carnage on the scale of the Indian Ocean tsunami cannot be controlled within a day or a few days, the communications and real time information collection on the disaster will most certainly reduce the level of misery experienced by victims at a level that would not have been possible even 40 years ago. As aircraft and on-site persons (using satellite phones or other powerful mobile communicators) collect information on areas of Sumatra, Thailand, and other affected areas, the information is almost immediately being logged, evaluated, distributed, and prioritized among a number of emergency response centers operated by regional governments - as well as international relief agencies.

From the regional and international response centers coordination further occurs among members of organizations such as the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team ( ). MPAT holds frequent disaster response exercises among member nations to ensure coordination lines and pre-planned responses are quickly executed. All MPAT member nations have access to central databases of planning information, available resources, and a "command center" mobilized when a regional disaster occurs.

Telecommunications and information technology are key components in our ability to respond to disaster. As real time information is collected, it is available immediately to all participants in the relief effort. Other technology - in particular military technology, can easily serve a duel use purpose in a disaster. The same troop transports designed to carry soldiers to war can carry refugees from a disaster. The same photo reconnaissance aircraft used to spy on enemies can provide a clear view of the extent of damage. The same technology used to collect electronic intelligence can locate attempts to use mobile phones, radios, and even audio signals of people stranded in remote areas. Infrared scanning used to identify enemy soldiers in a bunker or building can just as easily locate a family stranded in a jungle.

If you compare the current response to the Indian Ocean tsunami to the effects of tsunami damage following eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883 ( ), you can see the extent of damage from that disaster was not even known for several decades.

In most cases disaster cannot be predicted. We are making progress predicting earthquakes, hurricanes, and eruptions - however science is no closer to effective disaster prediction than we are in fully understanding the human genome. Through effective use of communications, information technology, and duel use military/civilian technology transfer, we are getting much closer to reducing the level of pain following an event.

2005 will be a big year in further exploiting the potential of Internet and communications-related technology. Given the positive moves toward regional cooperation in activities such as MPAT, we should be encouraged our governments understand the need and role of technology in planning - was well as responding - to regional disaster.

by : John Savageau

John Savageau is a managing director at CRG-West, responsible for managing operations and architecture for several of the largest telecommunications interconnect facilities in the US, including One Wilshire in Los Angeles

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