Indonesia and the Ring of Fire

Indonesia and the Ring of Fire

Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia
Indonesia - Volcanoes
Indonesia – Volcanoes

This is a spin-off of my earlier blog: Towering Infernos. I did some drilling-down into Indonesia, the archipelago country with the highest number of volcanoes. At present, the nation has 149 volcanoes – some active, some dormant and some extinct. While the number of extinct volcanoes is few and far between, the number of active lava-spewing monsters is alarmingly high. Add to it, the fact that some of these mischief-mongers are still actively spewing lava.

Mount Tambora
Mount Tambora

The primary reason for such alarming volcanic activity in Indonesia is because it sits tightly along what’s called the Pacific Ring of Fire. This is an area in the Pacific Ocean where most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been happening since aeons. It is said that the naughty boys in Indonesia (Mt. Merapi, Kelud etc.) are the most active volcanoes known to mankind, at least on our planets. Wait – so you did not know there are extra-terrestrial volcanoes? Well… there are. More about that later – or maybe in another blog.

Here are some stats for you to chew on:

Submarine volcanoes:


Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)

Submarine 1922

-5,000 -16,404




Emperor of China






Banua Wuhu -5




Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


2,276 7,467




Sekincau Belirang






Sempu 1,549


Complex Volcanoes:


Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


3,088 10,131


2,919 9,577




Peuet Sague 2,801


Dieng 2,565




Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


3,800 12,467


3,726 12,224
Semeru 3,676


Slamet 3,432


Sumbing 3,371


Mt. Merapi is tagged as the most active volcano, globally speaking. Is it active, it is a stratovolcano, and has been erupting since 1548, not continuously though. This volcano is flanked by the busy Yogyakarta city that houses nearly 2.5 million citizens. Another tag this volcano has is ‘Decade Volcano‘.

Some of the notorious volcanoes in Indonesia are Krakatoa (or Krakatau) (I’ll get back to you with a full blog on this monster of a volcano), Toba and Tambora.

Anak Krakatoa
Anak Krakatoa

Krakatoa erupted with all its fury in 1883 (26th or 27th August). This was a ‘suicidal’ explosion since the explosion wiped 2/3rd of the island off the map of the world. Secondly, it was one of the loudest sounds ever heard. The explosion was heard almost 3000 miles (approx. 5000 km) away. That’s as good as 1/8th of the earth’s circumference. From the volcanic ejecta of Krakatau, rose Anak Krakatau (meaning ‘child of Krakatau). Those who are wondering where the photos of Krakatoa went – just a reminder – the volcano went suicidal in 1883. No photographer dared to paddle a canoe upto such a violent place just to get a photo op. Hence, no photos.

Lake Toba
Lake Toba

Toba (better known as Lake Toba) is famous (or shall I say infamous) for a ‘supervolcanic’ eruption that dates back to 75,000 years ago. It caused six years of Volcanic Winter which simply means a drop in temperature as a result of excessive volcanic ash in the atmosphere. To be precise, the destructive effects of this explosion went up to the stratosphere. For those who heard this for the first time – it is the atmospheric layer/zone in which planes fly. A regular aircraft flies at an altitude of just about 39,000 ft. while the debris from this explosion went all the way up to 1,64,042 ft. (that’s 3 times higher).

Mt. Tambora
Mt. Tambora

Now for the badass – Tambora. In 1815, this bad boy caused crop failures of epidemic proportions. This led to 1816 being labelled as The Year Without A Summer.

Banua Wuhu
Banua Wuhu


Whenever we talk about volcanic eruptions – we also need to talk about how its destructive power is measured/described. That’s why we need to talk VEI or Volcanic Explosivity Index. The rankings range from 0 to 8 where 0 denotes the weakest and 8 denotes the strongest/most violent/destructive explosions. Just so you know, there haven’t been any VEI8 explosions in the last 50,000 years.

The bad boy Tambora scored a 7 (VEI7) and Krakatau managed just a 3 (VEI3). Now you do the math – at VEI3, 1/8th of the earth’s circumference could hear the explosion. What do think will happen if there’s a VEI8 explosion. I’m guessing, Martians will report ‘disturbance’ from Earth.

Volcanic Explosivity Index
Volcanic Explosivity Index

I started by providing a teaser on ‘Ring of Fire’. Now, Indonesia is not the only country in that ring. Other countries include the likes of Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Russia, United States etc. The only reason I’m fixated on Indonesia is because this county alone has 149 volcanoes spread across such a small area (19,04,569 sq. km.). In essence, each volcano occupies about 12,697 sq. km. which is equivalent of 180 states of Tripura each having one volcano.

Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia
Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

All this is what (IMHO) makes Indonesia a marvelous country. One that lives at the edge – at almost all times. One that has a never-say-die attitude even in the presence of such geographical monstrosities. One with cost of living that goes easy on an Indian’s pockets. One that offers excellent conversion to the Indian Rupee (1 INR = 204.50 IDR or to have 1 पेटी in IDR, I just need a 500-rupees note). One that offers Visa on Arrival to Indians. Once that shares a lot of cultural similarities with India. So, did someone just ask me if I was planning a move to Indonesia? Well, I won’t say no. I’ve handled a rock-solid marriage for 8 years 5 months 26 days (as of today). You think these volcanoes can scare me? They haven’t met my wife yet.

So, see you soon (if I’m alive – she can read English too, you see?)


Disclaimer: This blog post is just an attempt at unveiling the volcanic activity in the archipelago nation. This post in no way suggests that Indonesia is a dangerous/uninhabitable/inhospitable country or allude to anything remotely related to that thought. The author personally admires seismic activity in the area and is even open to the idea of moving to Indonesia.

2 thoughts on “Indonesia and the Ring of Fire

  1. Sitting in Indonesia, I wasn’t aware of what you have mentioned. It takes interest, time and patience. I would like to see such blog posts.

    1. I’m glad I could shed some light on the matter. I’ve always been fascinated by volcanoes and Indonesia, being so volcano-rich, just comes easy to my mind.

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