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Pompeii of the East? Clues to mystery mega volcano that blew 7 centuries ago.

A volcano in Indonesia, Mt. Samalas, is now the leading suspect for an eruption that pumped more sulfur into the stratosphere than any in the past 7,000 years. Here's how scientists figured it out.

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Mt. Sinabung spews volcanic materials from its crater as seen from Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2013. Researchers now have a leading suspect for one of the largest volcanic eruptions since the end of the last ice age – Mt. Samalas on the island of Lombok, Bali's nearest eastern neighbor.

Binsar Bakkara/AP

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Researchers now have a leading suspect for one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the past 11,700 years – a summit in Indonesia that blew its top in the mid-13th century, burying the capital of an island kingdom and bringing a cold, flood-filled summer to many parts of Europe.

The suspect: Mt. Samalas on the island of Lombok, Bali's nearest eastern neighbor. [Editor's note: The original version cited the wrong direction from Bali.]

Sometime between AD 1257 and 1258, the volcano exploded in three phases over two or three days. When the violence was over, the volcano had pumped the largest amount of sulfur into the stratosphere of any volcano in the past 7,000 years – some eight times the amount Krakatoa lofted in 1883 and twice the amount Mt. Tambora released in 1815.

 

Samalas's eruption also lofted the equivalent of 10 cubic miles of dense rock as much as 26 miles high, according to an international research team headed by Franck Lavigne, a volcanologist at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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