- Estimated Date: April 1815
- Location: Sumbawa, Indonesia
- VEI Rating: 7
Mount Tambora has experienced some major eruptions in its long history. However, in 1815 it managed to be so destructive that it ended more human lives than perhaps any other volcano directly in history. Today, we also know it to be the most powerful volcanic eruption since humans have been on the planet. Rated a 7 by the Volcanic Explosivity Index, it sent around 38 to 51 cubic miles of volcanic material into the atmosphere. Going into April 1815, the magma chamber had been drained by previous eruptions. This allowed the volcano to essentially become dormant…but it was refilling that entire time.
Suddenly, an explosive eruption took place that could be heard as far as Sumatra Island 1,200 miles away. Heavy volcanic ash rained down and could be seen by all nearby islands within hundreds of miles. The direct eruption was estimated to have killed around 71,000 people. However, due to its impact on the global climate, 1816 became the “year without a summer.” North American and European temperatures and weather led to the death of livestock and crops. That led to an enormous famine, which was the worst of the century. Thus, you could say hundreds of thousands were impacted and any of their deaths were due to the eruption too.