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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Article de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

Publié par Bernard Duyck
Publié dans : #Eruptions historiques

The "direct" effects of the eruption of 1815 :

It's estimated that thousands of people died from the direct effects in the four months following the eruption.

Important pyroclastic flows, toxic gas clouds, and tsunamis are responsible of the first victims on Sumbawa, about 10,000 people.

With spraying the top of the volcano during the eruption, the erupted volume during the first day is around 150 cubic kilometers of ash, and 25 cubic kilometers of ignimbrites. The ashes are falling up to 1,300 km of Tambora, burying the vegetation of the surrounding islands, and polluting the drinking waters. Acid rain caused by gaseous emanations will kill the few remaining plants and poison the soil for years. Although it is difficult to quantify, it is believed that the resulting famine, to crop failure, will cause the loss of over 80,000 lives. (According to the sources of Zollinger and Raffles)



 

Isopacks of Tambora ash fallout, covering South Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok, East Java and southern Borneo. - The base map was taken from NASA picture and the isopach maps Were traced from Oppenheimer (2003).

Isopacks of Tambora ash fallout, covering South Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok, East Java and southern Borneo. - The base map was taken from NASA picture and the isopach maps Were traced from Oppenheimer (2003).

The writings of the time testify :

«  On my trip towards the western part of the island, I passed through nearly the whole of Dompo and a considerable part of Bima. The extreme misery to which the inhabitants have been reduced is shocking to behold. There were still on the road side the remains of several corpses, and the marks of where many others had been interred: the villages almost entirely deserted and the houses fallen down, the surviving inhabitants having dispersed in search of food ...
Since the eruption, a violent diarrhoea has prevailed in Bima, Dompo, and Sang'ir, which has carried off a great number of people. It is supposed by the natives to have been caused by drinking water which has been impregnated with ashes; and horses have also died, in great numbers, from a similar complaint.
 »

( Lt. Philips, ordered by Sir Stamford Raffles to go to Sumbawa./ cité par Oppenheimer 2003)

Tambora caldera - sulfur gases rise from the caldera - 1988

Tambora caldera - sulfur gases rise from the caldera - 1988

The "Lost Kingdom of Tambora."

Two scientists from the University of Rhode Island are interested there since 1986 : Haraldur Sigurdsson and Steve Carey. In 1988 during an exploration of the caldera, one of their guides speak to them of fragments of pottery and bronze coins found in the jungle, 25 km west of the caldera.

 

2004.08 - Excavation of Tambora - doc.Siggurdsson - Lewis Abrams - Univesity of Rhode Island via AP

2004.08 - Excavation of Tambora - doc.Siggurdsson - Lewis Abrams - Univesity of Rhode Island via AP

The scientists will use a ground-penetrating radar to examine the volcanic deposits of 1815. The excavations, carried out in association with the Indonesian Institute of Volcanology in 2004, appear promising result : in a ravine under 3 meters of ash, traces of an habitation and bronze dishes, ceramic pots were found intact and the rests of a woman charred and wrapped by lava
when she was about to take a glass bottle
, which melted under the heat. The objects have a kinship with those circulating at that time in Vietnam and Cambodia, and show a certain standard of living. Another body is found fixed at the door.

Excavations of Tambora - area bounded by teams from the University of Rhode Island and result of excavations. - A click to view - Photo URI newsExcavations of Tambora - area bounded by teams from the University of Rhode Island and result of excavations. - A click to view - Photo URI news

Excavations of Tambora - area bounded by teams from the University of Rhode Island and result of excavations. - A click to view - Photo URI news

This village, located five kilometers inland, was safe from hackers who controlled the maritime traffic ... and it is likely that its inhabitants were buried and charred by a pyroclastic flow.

Archaeological finds suggest a culture specific to Sumbawa, abruptly and completely swept by the eruption of Tambora 1815. The people were known as merchants in the East Indies; Honey, horses, Sappan wood to produce a red dye, sandalwood for incense and medicines, were the subject of the trade. The decorations found on everyday objects suggest a language related to the Mon-Khmer groups and different from the dialects of Indonesian. The civilization of Sumbawa had also intrigued the Dutch and British explorers in the early 1800s; they were surprised to hear a language spoken nowhere else in Indonesia.

This discovery opens a window in fact over a culture that Sigurdsson do not hesitate to call "The Pompeii of the East".




Roll of strings found in the charred remains of a house - photo Rik Stoetman
 

Skeletons of people of Tambora caught in a pyroclastic flow - a click to enlarge - Images Rik StoetmanSkeletons of people of Tambora caught in a pyroclastic flow - a click to enlarge - Images Rik Stoetman

Skeletons of people of Tambora caught in a pyroclastic flow - a click to enlarge - Images Rik Stoetman

Complete coil of rope within remnants of a collapsed building. - Image Rik Stoetman

Complete coil of rope within remnants of a collapsed building. - Image Rik Stoetman

Sources :

  • Global Volcanism Program – Tambora
  • Scientific American  - April 10, 1815: The Eruption that Shook the World
  • "Plinian and co-ignimbrite tephra fall from the 1815 eruption of Tambora volcano". Bulletin of Volcanology 51 / Sigurdsson, H.; Carey, S. (1983)
  • Nat Geo  - "Lost Kingdom" Discovered on Volcanic Island in Indonesia - link
  • Past Horizons, adventures in archeologia – Lost Kingdom of Tambora - By Rik Stoetman and Dan McLerran. - link

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