Indonesia: Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi

Volcanos: Krakatoa, Slamet, Lokon, Karangetang

     June 2009  

in deutsch



Anak Krakatoa

Already with the entry into the 7 km wide Krakatau caldera you ask yourself the question what enormously eruptive activity had happened approx. 126 years ago. It’s hardly to believe that already the 4 kilometres long sea-distance between the Anak volcano and the remnant Rakarta was till the August 1893 actually an union of three volcanos.



The eruption with the strength (VEI 6) was recorded as the second largest of the modern times. Evenly 18 km³ ashes and rock were blown into the atmosphere. The ash column moved between a 50 to 80 km height. Imagine, that three islands with a lenght diameter of 6 km disappeared completely (Rakata to the half) and the 'free space' was overflowed directly by enormous water quantities in the km³-class. The result of this violent reaction with the magma, might probably quite strain our imaginative power in the sense of the enormous dimension. For instance, the global temperature went even on the Northern Hemisphere around 1°C downward, and the entire Indonesian area got attuned to the equatorial 24 hours night. Even in Europe the sky changed intensively red. Edvard Munch represented this discoloration of the atmosphere in its famous painting “Cry”. (Cannot be shown for reasons of the copyright)

Whether the version “cry” was orginated 1893 or 1910 is disputed. As incontroversal was considered, that a version of the picture in the Oslo National Gallery originates from the year 1893. Munch had painted the picture due to a terrible nature experience. Source: VADIAN.NET, St.Gallen


The active volcano island Anak Krakatau, with our positions.

North-South distance on the island about 2,3 Km. Photo credit by NASA

1930 the Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatau) penetrated finally through the sea level and poured in the midst of the 7 km wide caldera a cinder cone of a height of approx. 390 - 450 meters (variable). The volcanic island Anak Krakatau is valid until today as continuous active and formed an island with a diameter of ca. 2,3 km.



After “recently” everything was blown up into the air, you have to be content with the remainders of the Krakatau. Thus we landed at the 1.Juni 2009 with the rubber boat technology on the island Rakata. On this paradise mangrove-like beach plants and an amply jungle are dominating the flora of the island. Immediately after the start-up of the beach kitchen, curious monitor lizards up to 1.5 meters between pots and other kitchen accessories could be observed. Even in the close camping tents some exemplars were already sighted and treated accordingly like unsolicited guests, - i.e. the throw out ceremony took place stante pede' by flying a nice arc ...

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Voluminous the first eruption noise of the Anak sound was amplified in the amphie - round of the Rakata island. The evening began and the first red lava fontains did accompanied the ash clouds. In the presence of the coming up moon the scenery becomes with the increasing darkness phenomenal. We were lucky because of the daily thunderstorms the air was cleaned to its most clearness.


GIF and Video


On the next day we moved with our luxurious cutter ‚Royal' to the Anak volcano as close as possible. In a distance of may one kilometre we let drift ourselves in the moderate swell close to the island.


Retrospectively the island Rakata with its sharp rock peaks as eternal contemporary witnesses of the blown up and torn island.




The eruptions show also by daylight the glowing-red lava shreds which roughly reached the size of minibuses. Between them, the so called cinder spears which left with an immensely high speed the 120 meter wide crater opening. The high internal pressure in the volcano was often approved by an ear deafening bang. However, detonation waves could not be observed. 



In the late afternoon we tried the landing on the Anak Island. Due to the rough sea a tingling act began. Already the attempt landing in the see-surf did cost some photographers the whole camera equipment if they forgot the waterproof packing. Due to the strong shark fish appearance, and since I watched the movie ‘Open Water', a capsize was generally unwanted :-(( ...

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With extra greetings the volcano expected us. Hardly ten steps gone, the volcano performed a violent explosion noise in the crater and the ejections were catapulted over the whole island. A two meter sized red glowing lava shred which was coming from an altitude of approx. 800 meter could not be specified in its flight direction and it was not possible to destine the point of impact a short time before. Hissing and fearsome this shred impacted with a dull noise into the old lava field about 30 meters before us. Well, dire prospects for the next night :-( , may I take the rubber boat again back? Nevertheless, during the following night smaller bombs flew in the closer periphery of our observation point, but such a strong eruption was luckily missed. The volcano wanted to give us initially an directly to understand: „YES I CAN". A small lava cave made the point of observation somewhat safer, and beside that it took nearly 30 seconds that the glowing boulders hit us finally.


The late afternoon showed us more eruptions. Inside the ash cloud, the fine ash dust was producing vertical tires, which probably worked like generators. Therefore by the possibility of thunderstorms the already crackling air may forced lightning flashes which considerable reached a high brightness. Thereupon an enormous thunderstorm followed, which fallow over the whole archipelago. With vehement thunders, some flashes unloaded themselves in next proximity. Consequentially, you could not divide the acoustic chaos any longer. Everywhere it roared and thundered, and between the interactions of these fundamental forces of nature I agnized myself, as absolutely unimportant ….



Light impressions




The thunderstorm ended and the eruption noises gradually dominated again impressing. Now the effective volcano feeling began finally. Bus-large lava shreds were shown up over the crater opening. The entire cone was partly covered. Large lava bombs rolled down or shattered at the slopes and littered themselves widely. The dawn began and the color spectacle took its run. Minute by minute the total color palette changed and brought again and again new light impressions to the appearance. Some ejectas reached temporarily the sea.



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The further day and the night permitted only few possibilities for photographing. Misty conditions and bad weather let us creep finally earlier into the sleeping bags, what means that after two sleepless photo nights this recreation does suited the plans for every one. In addition to the detail photographing, we wanted to spend the last night on Anak again.


When we changed the location into the eastern forest area, first impressing impact craters were to be recognized here. A longer fire break let permitted us a view from the east - rim of the now very enormously appearing cone. After this position brought a general indisposition to every one and gave no photographic innovations, we turned back again toward forest. Each meter away of the volcano affected somehow a redemptive feeling.

Arriving at the edge of forest, the Anak showed us again its enormous power. Due to the most strongly eruption of the day, some shreds of several meters were ejected like flat spears in an unbelievable speed, crossing over the half island, and hit down partially far over our previous position.


This event on the rim would have left in any case an enormously prickling impression…, however I was somehow completely glad, to aware in this moment the more safer distance to the volcano. This morning the volcano was squaring to its best, which is to be recognized also by the recording of the seismology?



Martin! Thank U very much indeed for the organisation.

On Tour: Th. Boeckel, M.Rietze, M.Szeglat

More at ALPE, images by M.Rietze

Marc Szeglat: 

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©2009, Photos and text from Th. Boeckel, M. Rietze, last modification 17.06.2009

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