ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Volcano That Spawned a Monster

Updated on April 18, 2010

On April 10, 1815, the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history helped prompt the creation of the most famous monster in world history.

Situated in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Island chain is the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. Covering an area over 15,000 square kilometers, the island hosts natural forests, archeological sites, agricultural scenery and numerous pristine beaches. Recreational activities include surfing, adventure fishing, sailing and under sea exploration.

On the Sanggar penisula looms Mount Tambora. At almost 9,000 feet it is one of the largest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago. It is an active stratovolcano, which are also known as composite volcanoes. Mount Tambora’s last eruption, a small, non-explosive event, occurred in 1967.

April 1815 was an entirely different story.

The first explosions from Mount Tambora were heard the evening of April 5th. According to the memoir of Sir Thomas Raffles (known as the ‘Father of Singapore’) the sounds were first attributed to distant cannon fire. Ships and troops were dispatched to investigate. On the morning of the 6th volcanic ash began to fall on East Java.

Around 7 PM on April 10th the mountain erupted with an estimated scale of Seven on the Volcanic Explosivity Index ... a reading FOUR times the energy of the famous 1883 Krakatoa eruption. The top five thousand feet of Mount Tambora was blown into the sky. The explosion was heard over 1,600 miles away ... imagine a blast in New York City being heard as far away as Denver, Colorado. Ash fell as far away as 800 miles.

Mount Tambora ejected an estimated 100 to 150 cubic kilometers of ash and debris into the atmosphere. In comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens tossed ‘only’ one or two cubic kilometers into the atmosphere. The sulfur dioxide spewed into the stratosphere began a long, suffocating journey around the Earth, leading to what became known as ‘The Year Without Summer’ in 1816 ... and the birth of the most famous literary monster ever created.

The 200 million tons of sulfur dioxide Mount Tambora ejected into the stratosphere slowly circled the Earth and disrupted weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Particularly affected in the summer of 1816 were Western Europe, Canada and the Northeast United States, and Asia. The reduced amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface lowered temperatures, causing crop failures and leading to mass famine.

Europe suffered food shortages that caused riots in France and the United Kingdom. Famine in Switzerland prompted the government to declare a national emergency. Abnormal amounts of rainfall caused the flooding of most European rivers. Frost formed in July and August. Europe suffered an estimated 200,000 deaths due to ‘The Year Without Summer’.

In June of 1816 literary giants Lord Byron and Percey Shelley, along with friends and family, managed a ‘summer’ getaway to the Swiss village of Cologny. Included among the group staying at the Villa Diodati, which overlooked Lake Geneve, was Shelley’s wife, Mary.

The unusually bad weather (described as ‘melodramatically tempestuous’) prolonged the vacationer’s stay and forced them to remain indoors. On the evening of the 16th the group amused themselves reading German ghost stories. Lord Byron challenged the members of the group to write their own horror stories.

While the others wrote at least minor tidbits, the uninspired Mary Shelley wrote nothing. On the night of the 21st the group discussion centered on the topic from ‘deStaeis De l’Allemagne’ concerning ‘whether the principle of life could be discovered and whether scientists could galvanize a corpse of a manufactured humanoid’. That night Mary awoke from a nightmare and began writing.

What began as a short story was lengthened into a novel that took almost a year to complete.

On January 1st, 1818, the novel that sprang out of a nightmare from a woman stranded indoors because of weather patterns altered by the greatest volcanic explosion in recorded history was finally published. The title? ‘Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus’, by Mary Shelley.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      Great hub read there powerful thanks


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)