You probably think you know what an extremely loud noise sounds like. If you’ve ever walked by a jackhammer, for example, or stood a little too close to the speakers at a loud concert. But those sounds pale in comparison to what is officially known as the loudest sound ever heard.
It happened on August 27, 1883. On an island in Indonesia, a volcano erupted so violently that it literally tore the island apart. The noise was so loud that people heard it over 3,000 miles away — which would be like hearing a noise from Dublin, Ireland when you’re in Boston.
It sounds impossible, and yet it very much happened. People heard the eruption on the island of Krakatoa in over 50 geographical locations across a full thirteenth of the Earth.
At 40 miles away, the sound shattered people’s eardrums. At 1,300 miles away, it sounded like “guns firing.” At 2,000 miles away, it sounded like “a series of loud reports, resembling those of artillery.” And at 3,000 miles away, it sounded like “the distant roar of heavy guns.” By the time the sound reached such a distant location, hours would have passed (the speed of sound is about 767 mph).
As you might guess, this was no average volcano eruption. It was devastating enough to wipe out 165 coastal villages and settlements and kill tens of thousands of people.
So, yeah, this is not a record we should aim to break anytime soon! Only truly cataclysmic events can create such loud noise, and it hasn’t happened since 1883.