Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
August 27 is the 239th day of the year (240th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 126 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1883, The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people.
Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement.
On 27 August four enormous explosions took place at 05:30, 06:44, 10:02, and 10:41 local time. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away, where they were thought to be cannonfire from a nearby ship. Each was accompanied by very large tsunamis, which are believed to have been over 30 meters (100 ft) high in places. A large area of the Sunda Strait and a number of places on the Sumatran coast were affected by pyroclastic flows from the volcano.
The pressure wave generated by the colossal final explosion radiated from Krakatoa at 1,086 km/h (675 mph). It was so powerful that it shattered the eardrums of sailors on ships in the Sunda Strait and caused a spike of more than two and half inches of mercury in pressure gauges attached to gasometers in the Jakarta gasworks, sending them off the scale. The pressure wave radiated across the globe and was recorded on barographs all over the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. Barograph recordings show that the shockwave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe 7 times in total. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi).
The eruptions diminished rapidly after that point, and by the morning of August 28 Krakatoa was silent. Small eruptions, mostly of mud, continued through October, though further reports continued through February 1884. These reports were discounted by (Rogier) Verbeek.
The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from 3,000 people located at the island of Sebesi, about 13 km (8.1 mi) from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra some 40 km (25 mi) north from Krakatoa. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more.
Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows entering the sea; each of the four great explosions was accompanied by a massive pyroclastic flow resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption column.
In the aftermath of the eruption, it was found that the island of Krakatoa had almost entirely disappeared, except for the southern half of Rakata cone cut off along a vertical cliff, leaving behind a 250-metre (820 ft) deep caldera.
In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 C (2.2 F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.
The eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards, and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets half-way around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption.
479 BC – Greco-Persian Wars: Persian forces led by Mardonius are routed by Pausanias, the Spartan commander of the Greek army in the Battle of Plataea.
410 – The sacking of Rome by the Visigoths ends after three days.
663 – Battle of Baekgang: Remnants of the Korean Baekje Kingdom and their Yamato Japanese allies engage the combined naval forces of the Tang Chinese and Silla Koreans on the Geum River in Korea.
1172 – Henry the Young King and Margaret of France are crowned as junior king and queen of England.
1232 – The Formulary of Adjudications is promulgated by Regent Hojo Yasutoki. (Traditional Japanese date: August 10, 1232)
1776 – The Battle of Long Island: in what is now Brooklyn, New York, British forces under General William Howe defeat Americans under General George Washington.
1789 – The French National Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, proclaiming that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights”.
1793 – French counter-revolution: the port of Toulon revolts and admits the British fleet, which lands troops and seizes the port leading to Siege of Toulon.
1798 – Wolfe Tone’s United Irish and French forces clash with the British Army in the Battle of Castlebar, part of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, resulting in the creation of the French puppet Republic of Connaught.
1810 – Napoleonic Wars: The French Navy defeats the British Royal Navy, preventing them from taking the harbour of Grand Port on Ile de France.
1813 – French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte defeats a larger force of Austrians, Russians, and Prussians at the Battle of Dresden.
1828 – Uruguay is formally proclaimed independent at preliminary peace talks brokered by Great Britain between Brazil and Argentina during the Argentina-Brazil War.
1859 – Petroleum is discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania leading to the world’s first commercially successful oil well.
1861 – Union forces attack Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
1883 – Krakatoa, an Indonesian volcano, enters the final stage of its eruption.
1896 – Anglo-Zanzibar War: the shortest war in world history (09:00 to 09:45) between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.
1916 – Romania declares war against Austria-Hungary, entering World War I as one of the Allied nations.
1921 – The British install the son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali (leader of the Arab Revolt of 1916 against the Ottoman Empire) as King Faisal I of Iraq.
1928 – The Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war is signed by the first fifteen nations to do so. Ultimately sixty-one nations will sign it.
1939 – First flight of the turbojet-powered Heinkel He 178, the world’s first jet aircraft.
1943 – Japanese forces evacuate New Georgia Island in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II.
1957 – The Constitution of Malaysia comes into force.
1962 – The Mariner 2 unmanned space mission is launched to Venus by NASA.
1969 – Israeli commando force penetrates deep into Egyptian territory to stage a mortar attack on regional Egyptian Army headquarters in the Nile Valley of Upper Egypt.
1971 An attempted coup fails in the African nation of Chad. The Government of Chad accuses Egypt of playing a role in the attempt and breaks off diplomatic relations.
1979 – An IRA bomb kills British World War II admiral Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and 3 others while they are boating on holiday in Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Another bomb near Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland kills 18 British soldiers.
1993 – The Rainbow Bridge, connecting Tokyo’s Shibaura and the island of Odaiba, is completed.
2003 – Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years, passing 34,646,418 miles (55,758,005 km) distant.
2007 – Bluegrass Army Depot Sarin(GB) leak in Lexington, Kentucky. Officials reported the Sarin levels 85 times above the safe limit.