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The Year Without a Summer- 1815 When the Volcano Mt. Tamora Erupted

History and the devastation of volcanoes and global consequences.

Mt. Tamora

Mt. Tamora

Mt. Tamora Sketch

Mt. Tamora Sketch

Mt. Tamora Eruption and The Year Without A Summer

In 1815 when Mt. Tamora erupted, it was the most powerful eruption in the world's history. Before it exploded, it stood as the tallest peak atop the Isle of Sumbawa, rising three miles. Then on April 15, 1815, flames began shooting from its peak, with the earth rumbled and heard some hundred miles away. Then, eerie silence until five days later, it exploded, and the mountain collapsed, its height falling a mile. Thousands died instantly; entire villages wiped out.

Mt. Tamora eruption would be recorded as the most destructive volcano in 10,000 years. It was ten times the eruption of Mt. Krakatau. After Mt. Tamora erupted it left a caldera some three thousand feet deep and three miles across, completely barren within. It would take several years before the world would recover from Mt. Tamora's eruption.

Location of Mt. Tambora

Location of Mt. Tambora

Mt. Tamora Crater

Mt. Tamora Crater

Mt. Tamora, Also Known as 'The Pompeii of the East

Entire villages wiped out as the hot lava spill, and falling rocks came tumbling down the mountain. Then the injection of one hundred megatons of sulfur aerosol into the atmosphere created a 'veil' carried around the 386,000 miles of earth.

As a result, of global climate change, famine, disease, and deaths of thousands across the northern hemisphere, the 'veil' hiding the sun led to a cooling effect dropping the temperature one to three degrees, making it the coldest in 250 years. As a result, the entire climate was haywire. Water was contaminated, and the cholera epidemic broke out in 1817.

Agriculture globally affected the world with famine in all parts of the world. Even Sweden was particularly affected. Switzerland had 130days of non-stop rain. The homeless ran into the thousands. Citizens were begging the streets. All of Europe was starving. Events like tsunamis ravaged the Java Sea. In June 1816, it snowed in Connecticut and Albany, N.Y. Quebec City, Canada, the recorded snow depth at 12 inches. New York recorded a blizzard in June.

Many from the northeast United States began the migration west to escape the weather and crop failures, hoping to start a better life and community.

During the period 1816-1819, the saying 'to be alive was to be hungry.' In the United States, 1816 was the only recorded record of a zero tree growth ring.

The eruption would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, leaving destruction behind.

Indirect Happenings

While most of the devastation and starvation effected the lower classes, some of the upper classes could weather the crisis somehow. During this time, several famous authors and poets were vacationing in a chateau on Lake Geneva. Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, and Jack Polidori were challenged to write a horror story. As a result, Mary Shelley wrote the now-infamous FRANKENSTEIN, Lord Byron penned MADNESS, and Polidori wrote THE VAMPYRE. They remain literature masterpieces even today.

Another indirect result of the catastrophe was the invention of the bicycle. Because of the crop failures, livestock couldn't be fed, and transportation at the time was by horses, along with livestock, died of starvation.

Somehow transportation had to reinvent itself now that horses used for transportation were no longer available. Finally, in 1817, Karl von Drais had the answer and invented his two-wheeled bicycle, paving the way for another phenomenon.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Commetocut  1816

Commetocut 1816

Archaeologists Excavate Buried Villages

In 2004, archaeologists from the University of Rhode Island began excavations of villages covered in Mt. Tamora's eruption. They discovered a house with a carbonized woman whose bones were turned to charcoal along with bits of ceramic pottery, bronze bowls, and iron tools.

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It will take years for archaeologists to uncover artifacts that may tell scientists keys to eruptions of volcanoes.

There are supervolcanoes today that is seven times larger than Mt. Tamora spread around the world. A supervolcano is within a magnitude of eight that occurs when magma in the mantle rises in the crust but cannot break through a fissure. Over time, the pressure accumulates until it finally erupts. The devastation today would probably surpass that of Mt. Tamora.


Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on May 25, 2021:

Your article is fascinating and tragic. I hadn't heard of this event. Thanks for educating me! :-)

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 25, 2021:

Thanks for your visit, Alicia. I appreciate it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 24, 2021:

The eruption created some horrible and sad effects. It was interesting to read about it, though. Thanks for writing the article, Fran.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 24, 2021:

Thank you for your visit. I appreciate and your comment.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 24, 2021:

Very detailed and well written.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 24, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for stopping by. Volcanoes are extremely dangerous yet they are also responsible in part for making out planet.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 24, 2021:

Rosina, thank you for visiting. I agree with you about supervolcanoes and hope to never hear of one happening soon. Thanks again, Rosina, and welcome back. Stay healthy.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 24, 2021:

that first diagram tells us so much. This amount of destruction is so awful. I can only imagine the difficuty the archaeologists are having with this site. I hope no other volcanos errata ever! This is a very interesting article, Fran.

Rosina S Khan on May 24, 2021:

It's sad to see so much devastation and starvation occured due to the eruption of Mt. Tamora. Now you speak of supervolcanoes which scares me. Hope they will erupt after another century haha. Thank you for your marvelous share, Fran.

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