April 10 marks the largest volcano eruption in history, the sinking of nuclear submarine Thresher and a plane crash that claimed the lives of the Police President.
In Part 2, we cover the day’s diplomatic breakthroughs, the killing of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and the founding of Catholic University of America.
Apr-10 (Pt 1): Mt. Tambora and other Disasters
Mt. Tambora Erupts – The Largest Explosion Ever Recorded
The largest volcano eruption (or any explosion for that matter) in recorded history occurred on this day in 1815 at Indonesia’s Mount Tombora. The explosion was heard 1,600 miles away with ash falling at least 810 miles away. Pitch darkness was observed as far away as 370 miles from the mountain summit. An estimated 10,000 Indonesians were killed instantly.
Like Krakatoa which erupted in 1883, Tambora’s explosion had a “nuclear winter” effect a led to a “year without a summer” causing widespread famine and over 100,000 deaths in Europe.
An explosive eruption like Tambora releases huge amount of energy. A rough estimate for the 1815 event is ~1.4 x 1020 joules of energy were released across the few days of eruption. One ton of TNT releases ~4.2 x 109 joules, so this eruption was 33 billion tons of TNT. That’s 2.2 million Little Boys (the first atomic bomb). The US uses about 1.17 x 1020 joules of power each year (at least in 2007), so Tambora, in the span of a few days, released about the same amount of energy as the consumption of the entire United States in one year (or ~ 1/4 of the entire world’s annual energy consumption!) If you want to compare it to other geologic events, the 2004 Indonesian earthquake that generated the Boxing Day tsunami releases ~110 petajoules of energy (1015joules). That still leaves Tambora ~1200 times more powerful than that M9.3 earthquake.
Navy Submarine Thresher Sinks is Worst US Naval Submarine Disaster
One hundred twenty-nine (129) American sailors die when the submarine USS Thresher sinks at sea during deep-diving tests of the coast of Boston. The tragedy led to the implementation of the SUBSAFE program. While the U.S. lost 16 submarines in non-combat accidents from 1915-1963, it has never lost a SUBSAFE certified vessel. The Thresher was the first nuclear submarine to be lost at sea and second only to the Russian Kursk for onboard deaths.
Ojihri Camp Disaster Kills
An ammunition depot for Afghan mujahideen fighting against Soviet forces from Afghanistan ignites killing over 1,300.
Polish President Among 96 Killed in Polish Air Force Crash
A Polish Air Force plane en route to Smolensk to commemorate the 1940 mass executions of Poles by Soviet secret agents, crashed killing all 96 on board including President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, 18 members of parliament and other Polish officials.