, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 123–128 | Cite as

Emplacement of a Debris Avalanche during the 1883 eruption of Krakatau (Sunda Straits, Indonesia)

  • Camus G. 
  • Diament M. 
  • Gloaguen M. 
  • Provost A. 
  • Vincent P. 


The data collected during the “Mentawai” cruise help to clarify understanding of the 1883 eruption of Krakatau. We have previously discussed the weaknesses of the interpretation of Williams (1941) and others (Self and Rampino 1981) and emphasized that only a Mount St. Helens-type collapse during the course of the eruption could account for all the characteristics of the eruption and of the related deposits.

The discovery on land of deposits attributable to a debris-avalanche, in the stratigraphic position where they were expected, is a strong argument for the validity of our scenario.

Marine surveys confirm that the sea bottom around Krakatau is covered by a thick ignimbritic deposit. But the presence of this deposit does not invalidate the presence of a debris-avalanche deposit under the ignimbrites. The hummocky morphology favours this hypothesis.

Flank-failure of volcanoes is generally considered as a very efficient mechanism for triggering tsunamis (Kienle et al. 1987; Siebert et al. 1987). However, the majority of the volcanoes where flank-failure has been described are tall and bulky and the collapse of a broad edifice like Krakatau may be surprising. However the geological evidence shows that such a mechanism can act at various scales; for example the flank collapse of Mayu Yama volcano (height 700 m, volume 0,3 km3), a parasitic cone of Unzen volcano (Japan), triggered a debris-avalanche into the sea that was 1 km long, with a characteristic hummocky surface; the resulting tsunami killed 9528 people (Katayama 1974). In the same way, a partial collapse of Iliwerung volcano, Indonesia (50 × 106 m3) in July 1979, triggered a tsunami which killed several hundred people (McClelland et al. 1989). At Krakatau, the main summit was 822 m asl; the collapse took place along the edge of the prehistoric caldera and this structural unconformity probably facilitated the triggering of the process.


Indonesia Unconformity Debris Avalanche Stratigraphic Position Geological Evidence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Camus, G.; Vincent, P-M.: Discussion of a new hypothesis for the Krakatau volcanic eruption in 1883. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 19: 167–173 (1983)Google Scholar
  2. Deplus, C.; Dahrin, D.; Arsady, E.; Bonvalot, S.; Diament, M.; Dubois, J.; Harjono, H.; Provost, A.; Vincent, P.-M.; Zen, M.-T.; Jr.: Results of a geophysical study of the Krakatau volcanic complex (Indonesia). Abstr., Intern. Conference on Active Volcanoes and Risk Mitigation. Napoli 1991.Google Scholar
  3. Diament, M.; Harjono, H.; Arsady, E.; Bonvalot, S.; Dahrin, D.; Deplus, C.; Dubois, J.; Zen, D.: A geophysical study of the Krakatau volcanic complex. Abstr., EUG VI, Strasbourg, 24–28 March, 1991.Google Scholar
  4. Katayama, N.: Old records of natural phenomena concerning the Shimabara catastrophe. Sci. Rept. Shimabara Volcano Observ., Fac. Sci. Kyushu Univ. 9: 1–45 (1974)Google Scholar
  5. Kienle, J.; Kowalik, Z.; Murty, T. S.: Tsunamis generated by eruptions from Mt. St. Augustine volcano, Alaska. Science 236, 1442–1447 (1987)Google Scholar
  6. McClelland, L.; Simkin, T.; Summers, M.; Nielsen, E.; Stein, T. C.: Gobal volcanism, 1975–1985. Smithsonian Institution, Scientific Event Alert Network (SEAN), 655 p., 1989.Google Scholar
  7. Self, S.; Rampino, M.: The 1883 eruption of Krakatau. Nature 294: 699–704 (1981)Google Scholar
  8. Sigurdsson, H.; Carey, S.; Mandeville, C.; Bronto, S.: Pyroclastic flows of the 1883 Krakatau eruption. EOS 72, 36, 377–381 (1991)Google Scholar
  9. Simkin, T.; Fiske, R. S.: Krakatau 1883. The volcanic eruption and its effects. 464 p., Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington DC, 1983.Google Scholar
  10. Siebert, L.; Glicken, H.; Ui, T.: Volcanic hazards from Bezymianny —and Bandaï eruptions. Bul. Volcanol. 49, 1: 435–459 (1987)Google Scholar
  11. Ui, T.; Kawachi, S.: Neall, V. E.: Fragmentation of debris avalanche during flowage. Evidences from the Pungarehu formation, Mount Egmont, New Zealand. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 27, 225–264 (1986)Google Scholar
  12. Verbeek, R. D. M.: Krakatau 567 p. Imprimerie de l'Etat, Batavia 1886.Google Scholar
  13. Vincent, P-M.; Camus, G.: The origin of the 1883 Krakatau tsunamis, by P. W. Francis, a discussion. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 30: 169–177 (1986)Google Scholar
  14. Williams, H.: Calderas and their origin. Bull. Dept. Geol. Sci. Univ. Calif. 25: 238–346 (1941)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camus G. 
    • 1
  • Diament M. 
    • 2
  • Gloaguen M. 
    • 3
  • Provost A. 
    • 3
  • Vincent P. 
    • 3
  1. 1.Observatoire de Physique du GlobeUniversité Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Institut de Physique du GlobeParisFrance
  3. 3.Observatoire de Physique du GlobeUniversité Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance

Personalised recommendations