How the Earth Works

Can Krakatoa Stop Time?

Series 1 - Episode 1 Can Krakatoa Stop Time?



The volcanic eruption of Krakatoa off the coast of Java in 1883 is well known, but another eruption in the same area some 1,300 years earlier has had a much more marked effect on the world’s environment. American geologist Martin Pepper and our own Liz Bonnin travel to Indonesia to explore the evidence – with added derring-do.

Pepper in particular gets to be all John Noakes – virtually choking in a Javan sulphur mine as he attempts to describe how sulphur emissions during the eruption of AD 535 blocked out the light and helped reduce global temperatures by up to 15°. He also gets to rock-climb and scuba dive, while Bonnin grimaces on a jet ski trying to replicate the speed of the pyroclastic flow that hit surrounding areas after the 1883 blast.

Today, things are relatively quiet – except for the “child of Krakatoa”, Anak Krakatau, which has grown out of the sea since 1883 and is bubbling away nicely…


Documentary series examining the inner workings of the planet, beginning with a look at active volcano Krakatoa, which has the power to plunge the world into a dark age.