Indonesia's Best Volcano Dives
Probably the most well known of Indonesia's volcanoes is Krakatoa, famously misidentified as being 'East of Java' in the 1969 film title, but in reality lying west in the strait that separates Java from Sumatra. Krakatoa erupted catastrophically on August 27, 1883, almost completely destroying the island and killing anywhere between 35,000 and 100,000 people with a deadly combination of pyroclastic flows, ash falls and tsunamis. The pressure wave from the final, cataclysmic explosion was recorded around the world and the huge volume of ash propelled into the atmosphere caused average global temperatures to fall by 1.2 degrees Celsius in the year following eruption.
However, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was merely a hiccup compared to some of Indonesia's more spectacular eruptions in the past. In 1815 Mt Tambora in Sumbawa erupted with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of seven - four times the strength of Krakatoa. An estimated 100 cubic kilometres of pyroclastic material was ejected during the eruption and the mountain went from being a respectable 4,300m in height, to only 2,851m. The year after the eruption became known as the 'Year Without a Summer' in countries as far away as America and the atmospheric conditions and spectacular sunsets inspired famous landscape artists such as J. M. W. Turner.
The prize for the most spectacular eruption in recent history goes to the Toba event, which occurred at what is now Lake Toba in Sumatra between 67,000 and 75,000 years ago. The eruption had an estimated VEI of 8 - described as mega-colossal - and is possibly the largest explosive volcanic event within the last 25 million years. The explosion caused such changes to the global climate that scientists believe a planet-wide die-off of many species occurred after the event. And it has been suggested that the entire human population was reduced to just a few tens of thousands of individuals by the Toba event, a genetic 'bottleneck' that has influenced our genetic make-up every since.
A yacht moored in peaceful Jemeluk Bay in Amed, with Mount Agung - Bali's tallest volcano - looming in the background.
Cows taking a dip at sunset at the foot of Sangeang's volcano in Sumbawa.