Mount Tambora

stratovolcano on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia

Mount Tambora (8°14’41”S, 117°59’35”E) is an active volcano in Indonesia. It is on top of a subduction zone. Tambora was taller before its explosive volcanic eruption in 1815. This killed tens of thousands of people around the world. Later eruptions have been smaller.

Mount Tambora
Topography of Sumbawa; Tambora's caldera is situated on the northern peninsula.
Highest point
Elevation2,722 m (8,930 ft)[1]
Prominence2,722 m (8,930 ft)[1][2]
Coordinates8°15′S 118°0′E / 8.250°S 118.000°E / -8.250; 118.000
LocationLesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia
Age of rock57000 years
Mountain typeStratovolcano/Composite
Last eruption2011
Aerial view of the caldera of Mount Tambora



When the volcano erupted in 1815, it climaxed on 10 April. It was the most destructive volcanic eruption in modern history. It has been estimated that it was four times larger than the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, between Java and Sumatra, in terms of volume of magma ejected. Before the explosion, Tambora was 4,300 m (14,100 ft) high,[3] now it is only 2,722 m (8,930 ft) high.[1][4] Its massive crater is therefore a caldera.

The eruption destroyed a small Asian culture, known to archaeologists as the Tamboran kingdom. Most deaths from the eruption were from starvation and disease, as the fallout ruined farming in the local region. The death toll was at least 71,000 people,[5] of whom 11,000–12,000 were killed directly by the eruption.[6] The often-cited figure of 92,000 people killed is believed to be overestimated.[7]

It released 160 cubic kilometers – 160 km3 (38 cu mi) – of ash into the upper atmosphere. This caused famine around the world. Tambora's 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. It had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 7 and was one of the most violent eruptions in the last 5,000 years, comparable to the 180 AD "Hatepe eruption" of Taupo Volcano and the 969 AD eruption of Baekdu Mountain. The explosion was heard on Sumatra island more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi) away. Heavy volcanic ash falls were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java and Maluku islands.

Climate change


The eruption caused a global climate change known as the "volcanic winter". 1816 became known as the "Year without a summer" because of the effect on North American and European weather. Crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Tambora". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2013-02-20. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  2. "Gunung Tambora". Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  3. Stothers, Richard B. (1984). "The great Tambora eruption in 1815 and its aftermath". Science. 224 (4654): 1191–1198. Bibcode:1984Sci...224.1191S. doi:10.1126/science.224.4654.1191. PMID 17819476. S2CID 23649251.
  4. "Mountains of the Indonesian archipelago". Peaklist. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  5. This may seem a small total, but there were far fewer people living in the region in 1816.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Oppenheimer, Clive (2003). "Climatic, environmental and human consequences of the largest known historic eruption: Tambora volcano (Indonesia) 1815". Progress in Physical Geography. 27 (2): 230–259. doi:10.1191/0309133303pp379ra. S2CID 131663534.
  7. Tanguy, J.-C.; Ribière, C.; Scarth, A.; Tjetjep, W. S. (1998). "Victims from volcanic eruptions: a revised database". Bulletin of Volcanology. 60 (2): 137–144. Bibcode:1998BVol...60..137T. doi:10.1007/s004450050222. S2CID 129683922.