Report on Krakatau (Indonesia) — October 1981
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 10 (October 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Krakatau (Indonesia) Small ash clouds
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Krakatau (Indonesia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:10. Smithsonian Institution.
6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Explosions resumed 20 October after several months of fumarolic activity. Guy Camus and Pierre Vincent visited the volcano for four hours during the afternoon of 19 October, but noticed no premonitory activity. Explosions began between 0300 and 0400 the next morning. From Rakata Island (about 3 km SE of Anak Krakatau), Camus and Vincent noted 19 explosions in the two hours just after sunrise, before leaving the island. They had seen several others by mid-afternoon during discontinuous observations from a boat. Most were initiated by a "cannon-like" explosion from the main cone, followed by convective growth of an eruption column (typically to 400-600 m, but occasionally to  km in height). No noise could be heard on Rakata Island. The explosions usually lasted one to several minutes, but the last one observed by Camus and Vincent as they left the area began at 1511 and continued until 1525. Most of the eruption columns were dark, containing abundant ash but few blocks and no incandescent material. Water vapor could be seen condensing at the top of several eruption columns and lightning was occasionally observed. Ash fell on Sertung Island, about 2 km W of Anak Krakatau.
Further References. Camus, G., Gourgaud, A., and Vincent, P.M., 1987, Petrologic evolution of Krakatau (Indonesia): implications for a future activity: JVGR, v. 33, p. 299-316.
Siswowidjoyo, S., 1985, The renewed activity of Krakatau volcano after its catastrophic eruption in 1883: Proceedings of the Symposium on 100 Years Development of Krakatau and its Surroundings, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Jakarta, p. 192-198.
Sudradjat, A., 1985, The morphological development of Krakatau volcano, Sunda Strait, Indonesia: Proceedings of the Symposium on 100 Years Development of Krakatau and its Surroundings, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Jakarta, p. 141-146.
Geologic Background. The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.
Information Contacts: G. Camus and P. Vincent, Univ. de Clermont-Ferrand.