Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” is considered a masterwork of surrealism. The painting depicts a distorted figure screaming beneath an orange burning sky. However, it may be that only the screamer is surrealistically blurred. There’s a good chance that the sky in Munch’s painting was based on memory from 1883 or 1884. During this period, the sky in the western hemisphere was really the hue he depicted it, due to a violent natural event that took place on the other side of the world.
Krakatoa is a volcanic island in the Pacific that lies between Java and Sumatra, and in 1883 it exploded with violent force. The sounds of the series of eruptions carried over 3,000 miles. In fact, it has been postulated that the third large explosion of the eruption is the loudest sound to ever occur in recorded history, the force of these eruptions was so powerful that it shattered the eardrums of sailors 40 miles away.
The eruptions of Krakatoa sent off a series of tsunamis around the world and shifted the global climate for years, raising average temperatures over a degree. During the subsequent year, southern California received record amounts of rainfall which was credited to the eruption. It also darkened the sky and led to some spectacular sunsets in the western hemisphere that looked a lot like the one Munch painted in the scream.
Volcanoes are perhaps nature’s most violent feature. These ruptures in our earth’s crust can release massive amounts of lava and volcanic ash in fantastic eruptions. While Krakatoa may have been the most powerful eruption recorded, the most famous volcanic eruption occurred in Pompeii, Italy in the year 79. The layer of ash that covered the nearby inhabitants preserved them for all of history to see. But it’s not the past that troubles us when it comes to volcanoes – it’s the future.
There are over 1500 volcanoes on the planet that could erupt at any given moment. The most fearsome of these is the Yellowstone Caldera located in the northwestern United States. This is a supervolcano that occupies an area of roughly 1500 square miles. Though it hasn’t erupted for over half a million years, scientists agree that it is due for an eruption at some unknown point in the possibly near future. The last time it erupted, it spewed 240 cubic miles of rock and ash into the sky. If this happens again, a really good chunk of America is straight doomed and the rest of the world will feel the effects for years. (Editor’s note: But do we really care about that part of America? I vote no.)
It turns out, besides threatening our very existence, volcanoes also make for some most excellent tattoos. Just take a look at these snapshots of individuals whom have gotten a volcano tattoo. There’s only one word for these pics — hot!
So, now that you realize there’s a chance that the Earth may at any given moment violently wipe you from existence, why not live a little? Maybe go out to a nice dinner tonight, tell your crush how you really feel about them, or rush out and get a sweet tattoo of the potential face of your annihilation.