The last time the deadliest volcano in the planet exploded it was 1815. It killed more than 71,000 people on the spot and it was responsible for a volcanic winter that caused the worst worldwide famine of the 19th century.
Now it may explode again.
Its name is Mount Tambora and it’s located in the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. Back in 1815, the whole island was obliterated. Most of its population was killed and its vegetation reduced to ashes. Some trees were uprooted and pushed into the sea along with ash, creating three-mile-long rafts.
But its destructive power wasn’t just limited to the island. It affected the entire world. The volcano’s ash rose into a column that reached 43km high, right into the stratosphere. The heaviest particles eventually went down, but a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil remained for years, dimming the sunlight everywhere. This disrupted the entire global climate in a big way, which started a chain of events that killed millions through the Northern Hemisphere.
The next year there was no summer and temperatures went down an average of 0.5C. It doesn’t seem like a lot but the suspended sulphur released by the volcano caused agricultural crops to fail and livestock to die everywhere. The United States experienced extreme frosts and heavy snow that ruined the harvest. The same happened in Europe and everywhere, which resulted in a worldwide famine. The famine helped to spread a new strain of cholera in Asia and a typhus epidemic in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. It wasn’t fun at all.
Experts are now saying that Mount Tambora is ready to erupt again. A steady stream of earthquakes are shaking the island, from less than five a month in April to more than 200 now. Columns of ash are already venting as high as 1400m.
Experts have established a 3km danger perimeter and its inhabitants are fleeing under government orders. But most of the people know the story from 1815 and don’t need any orders to start running. In fact, people outside of the danger zone are also fleeing.