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Volcanic ash from the eruption of Krakatoa

Description:

Stranraer Museum is full of fascinating objects. One of the more curious items is a lump of volcanic ash collected by a Stranraer seaman, Captain Alexander Morland.

On 27 August 1883 the volcanic island of Krakatoa in Indonesia erupted. This was one of the largest volcanic explosions the world has ever known and the whole island was blown apart. Thousands of people were killed in the eruption and in the following tidal waves and for months afterwards a huge cloud of volcanic dust circled the earth blotting out the sun and causing a big drop in global temperatures.

At the time of the eruption Captain Morland was an officer on the ‘Barbise’, a German paraffin carrier sailing to New York. Although the ship was 40 miles from the centre of the eruption her deck was covered in volcanic ash and powder to "at least eight English thumbs deep."

The Barbise’s commander, William Logan of Glasgow, later wrote: "The lighting and thunder (caused by the eruption) became worse and worse. Lighting flashes shot around the ship. Fireballs continually fell on deck and burst into sparks. The man at the rudder received heavy shocks on one arm. The copper sheathing of the rudder became glowing hot from the electric discharges."

Amazingly, the Barbise – and her cargo of paraffin – survived the explosion. As the ship sailed away Alexander Morland collected some of the volcanic ash which had fallen on the deck. He brought it back to Stranraer as a souvenir and many years later it was donated to the town’s museum.

This lump of volcanic ash has another story to tell. In addition to her cargo of paraffin the 'Barbise' was carrying five seedlings of wild rubber from the Amazon. These were safely delivered to the Botanical Gardens at Buitenzorg in Java and became the parent plants for the south-east Asian rubber industry.

 

Place of Production:
Krakatoa, Java
Materials/Media:
volcanic ash
Source:
Stranraer Museum
Accession number:
WIWMS 1988.666
Digital Number:
SRMI002a, SRMI002b
Creation Date:
27 August 1883
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council


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