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The Washington times. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, June 29, 1919, NATIONAL EDITION, American Weekly Section, Image 28

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1919-06-29/ed-1/seq-28/

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The Javan Volcano Kalut. the Recent Eruption of Which Cost
the Lives of 50,000 on the Island, The Outburst Will
Undoubtedly Affect This Summer's Weather.
By ' Rene
fcrn-fHE statement that the United States
gB Weather Bureau has taken over on
2 what amounts to a long term lease
?the famous volcano Kilauea 'In Hawaii
'Bas undoubtedly caused the great number
jjg those who noticed it to wonder what
jginnection here can possibly be between
SJpleanoes and the weather.
"The answer Is that among the. many
Xactors which produce the combinations of
Seat and cold, wetness and dryness, air cur
rents and air calmnesces which we group
wider the general title of weather, vol-
noes have been found to be a very Im
gg-rtant element, indeed; so important that
H an observatory could be placed on every
e of these chimney stacks of our earth
,$e forecasts, science says, could be im
proved by at least fifty per cent The
taking over of Kilauea and a substantial
rant of money to the Weather Bureau for
J3ie extension of observations on other vol
canoes is a forward step in this direction.
J At first thought it would appear that the
Jgnly effect volcanoes could possibly have
pon climatic conditions would be to re
4tase into the atmosphere vast quantities
"aT heat units, raising the temperature
within a limited distance somewhat in
the fashion of opening a furnace door
aiid so affecting the balance of the forces
that determine our weather. But thiB Is
Entirely wrong. Volcanoes produce not
hot weather, but cold. The fires which
they give forth do nothing whatever, but
the dust and ashes that they throw out
do a great deal.
A tremendous eruption of Mount Erebus,
near the South Pole, could, and at least
once has, given us an approximation of the
g'acial age in a cold-killing Winter and a
cold Summer in which little vegetation
could develop and ripen.
How could this come about?
The temperature of the earth is deter
mined wholly by the amount of radiant
energy it receives from the sun. This
energy, in the form of light rays, passes
through the space between us and our
luminary without any effects of heat. But
our earth is surrounded by a .gaseous en-,
velope which we call the atmosphere.
When he rays of the sun pass through the
atmosphere and fall upon the earth's sur
face their energy is released in the form
of heat Almost all the heat in our atmos
phere comes from the radiation of sun
rays from earth's surface.
The sun delivers then every day a cer
tain quantity of heat ray3 through the at
mospheric envelope of our earth. If tho
skies be clear about half of this heat
speaking very roughly reaches the surface
of the world. The other rays have been
turned back by minute particles of dust
and by particles of watery vapor. If there
arc clouds, why then these masses inter
rupt the passage of more rays.
N'ow we know that we can shield our
selves from the sun's heat by parasols, or
umbrellas, or wide-brimmed hats, or awn
i.igs. and so on We know that these
shields keep us cooler than we would be
v ithout them. What we do with the para
sols, umbrellas and so on lt to turn back
te sun's rays from directly striking us.
What the volcwiop do is exactly the
j-anie thiliK!
B throwing up couiitluau toiib of tino
5-st high in the atmosphere tlmy interpose
lietween the sun and us a cosmic umbrella.
The sun rays are deflected by the count
less particles back into space, and every
wi.e so turned back means one unit of heat
io-.t to us. The dust thrown up by the tre
mendous eruptions is known to have risen
as high as fifty miles. The grains are so
minute that gravitation has very little
effect upon them and they may, and often
do, require years to fall back to earth's
surface. In the meantime they are taken
by the winds and strewn throughout the
whole upper atmosphere until
part of it remains unaffected.
In 19X2 there occurred on the Alas
kan Peninsula one of" the greatest
volcanic outbursts on record, Mount
Katmai, a peak 7,500 feetjiigb, ex
ploded. The noise it made was heard
In Juneau, 750 mileB away, and across,
the mountains at Ilwson, 650 miles
distant Intense darkness, black as
midnight in the daytime, prevailed
ver a vast area, lasting for sixty
hours at Kodiak, 100 miles away. Sul
phurous fumes were dlstinguished-
able m puget g0und, 1,500 miles from
the burning mountain. Dust fell at
Juneau and in the Yukon Valley, fif
teen mile3 from Katmai its "deposits
were four and a half feet deep. All
vegetation was annihilated, and
bears, rabbits, caribou and other animals
went blind.
If the Weather Bureau had known then
what It knows now. It could have predicted
a year at least of exceptionally cold
weather to follow. The eruption occurred
Jane 6, and, as a matter of fact, more than
a year of unusually cold weather did fol
lownot only in the United States but In
Europe also.
Following the great volcanic outburst
of Krakatoa. In 1SSS, there were two years
of red' sunsets all over the world, due to a
dust-cloud that enveloped the entire earth.
The dust originated from one spot,
Krakatoa, but soon it was distributed by
the winds everywhere throughout the up
per atmospheric levels. And that is what
happens more or less whenever there Is a
volcanic outburst anywhere in the world
Krakatoa was a mountainous island In the
Straits of Sunda, between Java and Su
matra, but the dust It threw up on the
occasion mentioned gave the United States
three cool Summers and three very cold
Winters. All over, the earth the tempera
ture was below normal for that length of
Krakatoa literally blew Itself to pieces.
It killed 10,000 natives dwelling along the
shores of the Straits, in the middle of
which, in a single night, it built up a
brand-new mountain twenty-five miles In
circumference and two miles high. The
explosions were so tremendous as to be
mistaken at a distance of 2,000 miles for
Pelee. on the island of Martinique, blew
its head off In 1902. It was a disaster far
greater than that which overwhelmed
Pompeii and Ilerculaneum. because the
loss of human lives was much greater. It
was a much more tremendous outburst
than that of Vesuvius In 79 A. D.. and the
dust it kicked up kept us cold for a year
Eighteen fifty-one was tho famous "year
without a Summer," which some very old
citizens of this country are still able to re
member It followed the great eruption of
Mount Toinbnro. at tho oaBt end of Java,
which destroyed 56,000 lives. For three
days darkness prevailed over all that
icglon to a distance of 300 miles. Ft was
estimated that enough duct was thrown
out to cover the whole Slate of Texas to
a depth of two feet-
During the year that followed the Uuited
States had snow in every month! For
some reason the heavJpHt part of the dust
cloud hovered over mcric-a
The greatest volcanic catastrophe in his
tory occurred in 1783, when Aaamayama,
on the main island of Japan, blew up.
The mountain throw great volumes of dust
to a height of fifty miles, and for years the
atmosphere all over the earth was foggy
with It.
Benjamin Franklin wroto: "There was
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j- Bllss'--r.' .' .BBBHBV'-:
A' iht r tT " -- UlllllHB IllllllllllllllllllllllllllliaVMilllKtllalllBSHPiiaHBtlBillllliallllllllllBilllllllllllllllllV 'ZJI1 r - J
a fog all over Europe. It waB of a per
manent nature and dry. Bays of the sun
passing through It were so faint that, when
collected In the focus of a burning-glass,
they would scarcely kindle paper." .
Franklin's statement illustrates the idea
perfectly. The sun's rays could not get
through the dust-fog to the earth, or at all
events suffered so much interference that
the heat supply furnished by the orb was
largely shut off. No wonder that tho fol
lowing Winter 1783-4 was severe. The
next two years albo were very cold.
A volcano in Japau, on the other sldo of
tho world, may, if it so chooses, make us
Americans chilly and run up tho coal bills!
Few of us In tho United States, being
happily free from danger of destruction by
volcanoes, realize how plentiful and how
widely distributed are such burning moun
tains In many other parts of the world.
But we do not have to go far away to find
them in numbers
In Alaska blxtj one nlcanoes form a
path of fire extending from the peninsula
that is Its southwestern tip in the direc
tion of Kamschatka, and all but connecting
the eastern with the webtern hemisphere.
It is a short trip to the Caribbean region,
where, scattered over many islands, is a
tremendous battery of volcanoes. Pelee Is
one of Its big guns.
Most volcanoes are arranged in batteries
and are liable to "go off" in a bunch. There
has always been a marked and' obvious
sympathy between Vesuvius, near Naples,
and Etna, on the island of Sicily, and whon
one Is active the other at least threatens
eruption. The whole island of Martinique
is a volcanic ash pile, marking the place
where ages ago a vent oponed in the ea
bottom, two miles beneath. There were i
number of such vents In that neighbor
hood, each of them marked today by a vol
cano rising out of the mean Together
these volcanoes form a hatteiy. their chltn
uoys communicating with tho sainu mterb.r
The only "burning mountain" In the
United Slates is Lassen Peak, In Cali
fornia. It Is a real volcano and fully ac
tive, though omitting streams of lava not
oftener than once in a while 1U most
important eruption within recent times oc
curred In 1914 Though relatively mild, as
volcanoes za, Lassen Peak has enough fire
Inside of It to run continuously all tho
factories in this country.
There was a time not very long ago,
geologically speaking, when all of our far
Copyright, 1010. by. Star Company.
from Erupting Craters Travel Around
tne vVorla ana Act as a Huge
Sunshade for Two or Tkree
West was literally a land of fire, the moun
tains now so majestically reposeful throw
ing out rivers of paolten rock from the
bowels of the earth. The stuff they threw
out Is still to be seen, as cooled lava, cover
ing thousands of square miles Of territory
to a depth of hundreds of feet.
The Weather Bureau, In the light of its
recently acquired knowledge, aays that any
long-continued series of volcanic putbursts
no matter In what part of the world they
occurred might radically al
ter our climate for an inde
finite period. In fact, if
great enough, they might
bring another Ace of Ice,
causing all of the United
States to be covered with an
ice sheet thick enough to
bury our cities.
And this calamity would
be brought about by no other
agency than dense clouds of
volcanic dust suspended
high in the atmosphere and
shutting off the heat of the
An Eruption of the Great Mexican Volcano Colima in Its Initial Stages. Here Is Seen an Enormous
Pillar of Smoke, Dust and Ashes Rising Miles Into the Sky to Be Carried by the
Winds Throughout the Whole Upper Atmosphere.
Great Britain Rights Reserved.
ons of DustVkicli Shot Up
Years to Keep Off tne
Heat-Bearmg Rays
Incalculable Quantities of
Dust Thrown High in Air
During a Volcanic Eruption
. Are Caught by the Winds of
the Upper Atmosphere and
Drift for Years Around Our
Earth, Cutting Off, Like a
Parasol, the Heat Rays of
the Sun, as Shown in This
Diagram. The Volcano
Pictured h Kqtmai, in
Alaska, Whose .Crater Is
Ten Miles in Circumfer
ence, and This Measure
ment Gives Us Some Faint
Idea of the Incredible
Masses of Matter Such
Earth Chimneys Can Eject

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