Letter | Published:

The Krakatoa Eruption

Abstract

BY this morning's post I have received, in a rather roundabout way from India, a translation of a Dutch account of the Krakatoa eruption, which, if you have not had it already, seems to contain some interesting variations on, or additions to, the mass of matter that you have already printed on that subject. Indeed the only postscript that could now be well added to it is the comfortable and encouraging discovery of the late French scientific expedition to the effect that the eruption is now positively over. The Batavians, as you are probably aware, feared that another eruption was preparing, in consequence of the immense number of stones still being ejected and clouds of smoke emitted. But the French savants discovered that no stones were being thrown up, only immense quantities of them tumbling down the mountain's sides; and this because the material, of which those new sides of the mountain are now composed, is so extraordinarily friable that the heat of the sun each day breaks them up, and the quiet force of gravitation brings the pieces galloping down the steep slopes, and plunging at last into the sea, to the danger of passing vessels,—but only by day, and when the sun is shining, for at night everything is quiet; and if by day and night a cloud forms above the mountain-top, it is neither smoke nor gaseous emanation, but merely the infinitely fine powdery matter of the broken-up and rolling stones of the day rising into the air and moving along with its currents up along the slopes which have been warmed by the sun.

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