Krakatoa – No plant growth for 2 years

Eruption in 535 AD killed a huge percentage of the world’s population

Krakatoa – No plant growth for 2 years

By Michael Relfe (Excerpts)

“In AD 535/536 mankind was hit by one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur …. It blotted out much of the light and heat of the sun for 18 months and resulted, directly or indirectly in climatic chaos, famine, migration, war and massive political change on virtually every continent”.

This is in the opening page of “Catastrophe” by David Keys, 1999, a book that should have been on the best seller lists but very few people know of. This article is an attempt to summarize that book and discuss some of the implications.

Parts of the U.S. once covered by ash from Yellowstone eruptions of 2 million and 630,000 years ago, compared to 760,000-year-old Long Valley caldera eruptions at Mammoth Lakes, CA, and 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, WA. (Adapted from Sarna-Wojcicki, 1991.)


The contemporary Roman historian Procopius described the mystery climatic disaster: “The sun gave forth its light without brightness like the moon during this whole year.”

Sixth century historian and prominent church leader John of Ephesus wrote of 535 AD in his ‘Historiae Ecclesiasicae’ (‘Church Histories’), “There was a sign from the sun, the like of which had never been seen and reported before. The sun became dark and its darkness lasted for 18 months. Each day, it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow. Everyone declared that the sun would never recover its full light again.”

Another 6th Century writer Zacharias of Mytilene wrote, “The sun began to be darkened by day and the moon by night.”

A Roman official known as John the Lydian reported that “the sun became dim for nearly the whole year.”

In Italy a Senior local civil servant, Cassiodorus Sentaro wrote in 536, “We marvel to see no shadows of ourselves at noon….We have had a spring without mildness and a summer without heat.”

According to Keys, this one global disaster directly or indirectly caused the deaths of a huge percentage of the world’s population. It indirectly affected the politics on every continent and contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. The 100-year period after it occurred is the heart of history’s so-called Dark Ages.”

In 536 the Japanese Great King Senka wrote, “Yellow gold and ten thousand strings of cash cannot cure hunger. What avails a thousand boxes of pearls to him who is starving of cold?”

* * *

Relfe goes on to give more evidence of a major global disaster in 535 A.D., including the collapse of the great Mexican city of Teotihuacan and the many plagues of the time, including the ‘Great Death.’ He then pinpoints Krakatoa as the culprit, and goes on to reconstruct the Eruption.

“Could such a catastrophe happen again?” asks Relfe.

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s largest dormant volcano, Relfe notes. It covers 1,500 square miles. It will almost certainly one day burst forth upon the world as Krakatoa did. “It appears to erupt roughly once every 600,000 – 700,000 yeas – and the last eruption was exactly 630,000 years ago,” said Keys. “What’s more, the last decade has seen a substantial increase in potential pre-eruption activity”.

Keys wrote in 1999: “Since 1988, upward pressure exerted by the magma reservoir and magma-heated water-vapour has forced hundreds of square miles of land to rise by three feet….

Then Relfe speaks of the currently dormant super-volcano in Long Valley, California, and the one beneath Naples, Italy. The super-volcano in Italy is known to have erupted cataclysmically twice – once 37,000 years ago, and again 12,000 years ago.

(Note: These dates roughly correspond with the Lake Mungo magnetic reversal and the Gothenburg magnetic reversal.)

Relfe also mentions the increasing restlessness of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, along with five other large potentially active caldera volcanoes in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands and Mexico….”If any one of these volcanoes explode, world climate would be plunged into chaos, precisely as it was in the sixth century”, says Relfe.

When Yellowstone blows, Las Vegas and Phoenix will be covered with a three foot layer of ash,” says Keys.

So long as you don’t live within a very large radius of the volcano itself, you will not be killed immediately. However, a BBC documentary said that one super volcano killed animals by covering them with ash 1,600 km (1,000 miles) away!. So it is clear that if Yellowstone blows a big one, it will wipe out about half of the US.

At one time, Michael had posted this entire article on his website ( Unfortunately, he has taken it back down. I’m trying to talk him into re-posting it.

In the meantime, here’s more info about the extreme weather events of 535-35:

14 thoughts on “Krakatoa – No plant growth for 2 years”

  1. I wonder if Green Dogma Crowd will Waste Billions, trying to produce as much CO 2 as possible, attempting to counter act the effects? No Carbon = No Life, Heat = Energy & Energy = Life ~ Cold Kills.

  2. Keyes theory might be supported by the recent case made that the Black Death in the 14th century was preceeded by a worsenning of the climate towards cold and that by a phaze of vulcanism ca.1256-1307 ad.The mechanisms in the 6th century may well have been similar though Keyes own evidence suggests a second jolt of somesort about 540 ad.[l read a prepublication copy of his book.] Sadly,I’ve never seen any follow up to prove Krakatoa did erupt then as his direct evidence was still ambiguous when he wrote.The hypothesis of cosmic impacts or aerial bursts ala Tunguska [Supported by Irish dendrochronologist Michael Bailey] needs more investigation too, though the volcanic theory is not mutually exclusive. Both could’ve played a role not yet conventionally acknowledged.

  3. Hmm. The ashfall from Mt. St. Helens traveled considerably farther than what is shown in the graphic. We continued to get a fine, white, powdery dust covering here in Colorado Springs for weeks following the St. Helens eruption. It was hard to remove from your car if you didn’t wash it off pretty quickly as I recall. I got a lot of car washes during that time.

  4. Here’s some more on the subject

    Right, 2 years without plant growth of course is a disaster, not only for human civilization but to all life on the planet.

    We have no sufficient food stocks.

    However nobody will stop you to prepare for disaster and create your own stocks for food, bottled water, gas bottles for cooking etc.
    You will be amazed what a few hundred dollars can buy you. IMO you there is no better or cheaper insurance.

  5. the best farmers always stock to allow extra pasture to be ensiled or to make hay for at least 6mths of the year, in an event like this on shorter rations we could nowdays keep most of our livestock alive if not well fattened.
    and green laws banning grazing on public land will go real fast as people realise its vital to survival.
    we also have coal/gas/uranium for heat, and light, and the means to grow indoors should we be forced to do so.
    native creatures will suffer the most.

  6. If we had such an eruption like the 536 AD Eruption at Krakatau plus a maunder minimum little ice age the out look for civilization would for a time be grim indeed. The Toba eruption 74,000 years ago is thought to have knocked the population of mankind down to a mere few thousand people and that is an estimate. It also intensified an ice age in progress by putting more SO2 and dust into the atmosphere. It is the kind of one, two punch that can bring some life forms to the brink of extinction.

  7. My cousin tells me: “My professor, Dr. Robert Dull, was one of the scientists who discovered that it was the Tierra Blanca Joven eruption in El Salvador that caused it. It was something like a VEI 6.9 to Krakatoa’s 6.0 – a massive explosion.”

    • In our life time,anyone recall the Mt. Pinatubo Phillipines eruption 1991 july,America U.S.G.S predicted the explosive volcano saving many lives. Fact,average world temps dropped by 1 degree C. I personally recall a couple of summers after 92 and 93 damp,cool,rainy on most of the weekends!Easy to remember,being younger,when the beach,boat an trailer campfires, partys, were washed out, on the sandy shores of Lake Erie.

      • I remember the Pinatubo eruption. The clouds had a very cold shade of gray to them all that year. Their coloration looked really different.

  8. Bought David Keyes book back in 1999. Is one of my favorites to reference when I get in discussions on effects from volcanoes on our climate over the long term.I think History channel did a program based on the book years ago. Thanks for sharing with others, hope more people make the effort to find a copy and read it.

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