Can a Single Volcanic Eruption Impact the Entire World?

In April 1815, the most destructive volcanic eruption of the past 10,000 years took place on the island of Sumbawa in the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. The eruption of Mount Tambora spewed 12 cubic miles (50 cubic km) of gas, dust, and rock into the atmosphere, killing at least 10,000 people who were living on Sumbawa, and tens of thousands more in the surrounding region. Furthermore, the effects of the massive eruption sent the global climate into a three-year downward spiral that ultimately led to widespread crop failures, decreased rainfall, and mass starvation in Asia, Europe, and North America.

The year without a summer:

  • Lava poured down the sides of the 13,000-foot (3,962-m) mountain on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, searing everything in its path. The eruption triggered tsunamis across the Java Sea.

  • Scientists have linked the Tambora eruption to the severe climate change that plagued most of the Northern Hemisphere in 1816, an agricultural apocalypse known as the “year without a summer.”

  • The eruption of Mount Tambora was 10 times more powerful than the better known eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in 1883, located about 900 miles (1,448 km) away from Tambora.

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