The Eruption of Mt Tambora 1815
The eruption of Mount Tambora occurred on 10th April 1815 and was one of the most powerful in human history with a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. Mount Tambora is located on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia.
Mount Tambora had been inactive for several centuries because of the gradual cooling of hydrous magma in its closed magma chamber. High pressure magma was formed during the cooling and crystallisation of the magma. This created high pressure inside the chamber. The magma and dissolved gases increased the pressure until the volcano exploded in a massive eruption.
On 5th April 1815 there was a medium-sized eruption which was followed by loud rumbling detonation sounds which could be heard 1600 miles away. There were rumblings until 10th April. On 10th April, the eruptions got bigger and there was a massive eruption which blew the volcano apart, which from 15 miles away looked like three columns of flames shot into the sky. Stones of pumice more than 6 inches across fell on neighbouring islands. These were followed by ash and pyroclastic flows which cascaded down the volcano and spread 12 miles from the summit. The ash fell at least 810miles away. Pitch blackness was observed 370 miles from the mountain summit for up to 2 days and tsunamis, of up to 4m tall, hit Indonesia’s islands.
• Originally the volcano was 4300m tall but the massive explosion reduced it to 2851m
• The village of Tambora was wiped out by pyroclastic flows.
• The ash column was 43km high and blocked out the sun around the world, 1816 was the second coldest year in recorded history and has been called ‘The Year Without Summer’.
• All vegetation on the island of Sumbawa was destroyed; uprooted trees mixed with the ash and washed out to see forming rafts up to 5km across.
• Crop failures and famines occurred all over Europe and North America.
• The cold spring and summer of 1816 led to snow in New York on 6th June 1816 and frost in Connecticut on 4th June 1816.
• There was a persistent fog in the North-east USA which reddened and dimmed the sunlight.
• An estimated 10,000 people died directly from the eruption and about 70,000 more died from the resulting climate change.
• The climate change has been blamed for the severity of the Typhus epidemic in southeast Europe and the disrupted Indian monsoons which led to 3 failed harvests, famine and a new strain of Cholera which originated in Bengal.