ACTIVITY 220: Quickly
read the article below to get the general idea and think about the
disaster described here. Then, choose the most appropriate title from the
menu and check the correct answer.
Don't worry if there are some words you don't
know: just read for a gist without using your dictionary.
In the summer of 1883, from the Sunda Straits between Java and Sumatra, the
volcano of Krakatoa suddenly blew eleven cubic miles of ash and rock into the
stratosphere, sending a shock wave seven times around the globe. The dying
ripples of the enormous tidal wave which followed the eruption reached the
English Channel, and the volcanic debris, encircling the planet, altered weather
and harvest patterns around the world for years afterwards.
Within a few decades, forests and animals had returned to the tiny islands which
were all that remained of Krakatoa's outer edge. Meanwhile, from the waters
between them, emerged a threatening smoking rock, sometimes growing at a rate of
more than three feet (about 1 metre) a month. The locals call it 'Anak Krakatau' - 'Child of
Krakatoa'. It has actually raised and submerged its head five times since its
first appearance in 1925, and when Lome and I reached it in September 1983 it
was nearly 300 feet high and so active that the government had denied us landing
permits. Under these circumstances we were obliged to reach it at night, in a
small open boat crewed by two very anxious and expensive local fishermen.
We approached through floating fields of pumice
– produced from lava
cooled in the sea – which knocked against our
wooden boat, and when we stepped into the water to drag the boat on to the
beach, as black as the night around us, our bare feet sank into sand too hot for
comfort. We began to climb slowly upwards, into a storm of ash which blocked our
view of the coming dawn.
It was nearly daylight by the time we reached the summit. A few miles away, in
three directions, lay the islands of Verlaten, Lang Eiland and Rakata, which
were all that remained of the original volcano. Beyond them we could survey the
distant coastline of Java on one side and Sumatra on the other. We could just see the point where, in
that August of 1883, the Dutch administrator of south Sumatra and his family
had observed the tidal wave rise 150 feet right up to the veranda of their
house, pause, and withdraw again, taking some of their flowerpots, half the
hillside, and the entire town with its population of 800
people. To the south, off Java, we could detect where the mouth of the Lampong
river lay, where another survivor, a fisherman, had found himself struggling in
a furious inrushing sea, and had seized and ridden for miles inland what he had
thought was a log, but discovered to be an equally terrified crocodile.
Around and beneath us moved an oily, uneasy sea, dotted with floating stones. We
had read that the temperature of the sea round here could vary suddenly by
hundreds of degrees. Ships are advised to steer well clear of the islands, as
the seabed is constantly moving and enormous magnetic disturbances cause
compasses to swing wildly. It was these haunted waters which had swallowed up
nearly all the 36,000 victims who had perished in the first explosion. A crewman
in the ship Samoa, which passed through the Sunda Straits shortly afterwards,
described seeing bodies and pumice stretching all the way to the horizon.
Floating pumice fields were so thick that sailors could walk on them
– and some
carried human remains 4,500 miles across the Indian Ocean to the beaches of
Now, read the article carefully and find the words
which express the explanations below. Then
check your answers.
little waves (PARAGRAPH 1):
small pieces of rock and ash produced during an eruption
came out (PARAGRAPH 2):
lowered below the surface (PARAGRAPH
top of a hill or mountain (PARAGRAPH
thick piece of wood (PARAGRAPH 4):
died (PARAGRAPH 5):
Finally, for questions 1-to-6, choose the answer (A,
B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the article.
Before looking up a word you don't understand in your dictionary, decide
if you really need to know what it means. Then
check your answers.
What do we learn about the eruption of Krakatoa?
A. It was seven times stronger
than any previous
eruption. B. The sound was heard as far away as England. C. It was impossible to grow crops
in Java for years
afterwards. D. Most of the island where the volcano had been
Why did the visitors approach Anak Krakatau by night?
A. They were not supposed to be there. B. They had been delayed by the fishermen.
C. It was less hot at that time. D. The volcano was more impressive then.
When the visitors reached the summit, they
A. discovered how much of the original volcano had
disappeared. B. thought how beautiful the view was. C. drew a map of the coastline of Java and
Sumatra. D. thought about what had happened in the 1883
Which of these phrases is understood between 'but' and 'discovered'?
(paragraph 4, last sentence)
A. it was B. what he then C. had found himself D. where he
What impression of the sea do we get from the extract?
A. It's only safe for small boats. B. The waves are very rough. C. It's better not
to sail on it. D. You can't believe what once happened here.
The writer calls the waters 'haunted' because...
A. very few people go there. B. many people died there. C. the seabed is always changing. D. the volcano is still
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