Underwater volcanoes have fascinated me since the first time I read about the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcano located in the Sunda Strait. Krakatoa was the name also used for the surrounding island group comprising the remnants of a much larger island of three volcanic peaks which was obliterated in the cataclysmic 1883 eruption, unleashing huge tsunamis (killing more than 36,000 people) and destroying over two-thirds of the island.

The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard up to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. The shock waves from the explosion were recorded on barographs worldwide.

The main island was completely obliterated during the explosion, it literally just didn’t exist anymore. Until 1930 when an underwater lava dome broke the ocean’s surface and began producing lava flows faster than the ocean could erode them. This new island is called Anak Krakatau, which translates into, “son of Krakatoa”.

Although we do have some extremely recent video footage of Anak Krakatau continuing it’s growth spurt, we don’t have video of it’s actual birth. The photos in the gallery below aren’t of Anak Krakatau, they were taken in the South Pacific in 2006. While the eruption did produce a small amount of volcanic rock, a tiny little island, it has since been eroded away by the ocean. But this is the closest most any of us will ever get to actually seeing land being born.

NOTE: While these photos are fascinating and wonderful to look at. If you ever find yourself in the middle of the ocean and see what looks like signs of an underwater volcano you will want to get the hell out of there as soon as possible and not for the reason you might think. It’s not to avoid being blown up by the volcano, it’s because the underwater volcano can release huge bubbles of gas that are much lighter, and there less buoyant, than water and you might find your boat being swallowed up under the water and sinking with no chance of escape. Beautiful and terrifying.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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